Directed by : Kenny Ortega
Original Release Date : October 20, 2016
Running time : 1h28min
[Plot] A criminologist narrates the tale of the newly engaged couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss who find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a cold and rainy late November evening, somewhere near Denton, Ohio. Seeking a telephone, the couple walk to a nearby castle where they discover a group of strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They are soon swept into the world of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a self-proclaimed "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania". The ensemble of convention attendees also includes servants Riff Raff, his sister Magenta, and a groupie named Columbia. (Wikipedia) (Yes I’m a lazy ass)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was something I have always heard of, always knew, as far as I can remember. I strangely took a long while to come to watch it. Theme-wise, it was everything I’m supposed to like and the younger me (I’m 27) was up for it; my mom had always told me it was great, one of my brothers too, but little did I know I was at the start of a pretty big downer : They sadly forgot to mention then that it was a musical.
I lost about all interest in it — I hate musicals with a fierce passion, and also, back then, I had the condescending thought this probably was too grotesque and over-the-top for me (who was obsessively into Visual Kei, which is absolutely not over-the-top in any aspect…). Funnily enough, my teenage icons and inspirations (not including Japanese ones) were people like Pete Burns and Boy George, the French group Indochine, Depeche Mode and more. Thankfully, years passed and I changed, which eventually leaded me to give a chance to this classic. I simply loved it. To this day, I find myself humming tunes from it here and there, it really stayed with me.
Learning earlier this year that a remake was to be made was, of course, quite a shock. And not a good one. Why try to remake such a classic ? Even a good version won’t ever reach the fan’s expectations, this is a bad idea, no matter the angle. Learning that Laverne Cox was cast as the main was… just as shocking. I love Laverne cox. But immediately, I cringed at the idea that a trans woman would play a character that initially is a Bisexual man and sings about being a “Sweet Transvestite”. This is a step backward; this is blatantly giving another opportunity for transphobic and ignorant people to go on with their misconceptions (the word isn't even strong enough) that trans women are ‘just men in dresses’. Laverne Cox did say she personally was uncomfortable with the idea at first, for this very same reason we, most LGBT folks thought of.
2016 passed faster than I could see and October 20 came… and boy was it cringe-worthy. This tribute was everything I hoped it wouldn’t be. Not everyone can act extravagant and make it good, and the whole cast tries way too hard to me, rendering most characters annoying while it’s basically the same plot and dialogue. Overall, I have highly mixed opinions about the cast.
Victoria Justice looked like she had no will to play Janet’s role whatsoever. She exaggerates about everything she does, which doesn’t make it look parodic, but like plain bad acting. Her singing voice works with the role, but that’s about it.
Ryan McCartan did, in my opinion, a better job. He was much closer to the original Brad, although a bit too goofy, maybe.
Reeve Carney is the one who nailed his role. Instantly, I saw – and heard Riff Raff.
Christina Milian — I wanted to love her, so much. She’s a singer I liked a lot when I was a teen, and Magenta happens to be my favorite character from TRHPS, but I think she was my greatest disappointment in this so called tribute. Magenta became a second hand character (much like Riff Raff and Columbia), and I would be surprised if anyone thought she had any importance at all before the finale of the film came.
Annaleigh Ashford made a visually good modern Columbia. However, that was about it, too. I’m not sure why still now, but I didn’t care for her role.
Laverne Cox makes a convincing and pretty appealing main, if only she wasn’t playing Frank N. Furter. She is, as a matter of fact, too feminine. But mainly, I found her Frank pretty dull despite all the different outfits and wigs that came with each of her appearances (this was, by the way, unneeded), she lacks the aura Tim curry had as this character, its subversive nature, its essence. I was appalled to hear Frank in fact became a “she” in the movie, from the moment the character is directly spoken to (I.E in Rose Tint My World). While this is what’s best for her by all means, this still makes no sense at all for this twists the whole story around and worse, makes the Frank/Rocky relationship heteronormative. Changing an LGBT classic into that when it was supposed to be introduced to “a new, younger audience who didn’t know the original” to it ? Now that’s great. *slow clap*
Staz Nair as Rocky, well, physically, he’s OK ! In terms of acting ? Not so much. Oh, and he wears long, large shorts. Because, you know, we wouldn’t want to see any actual body parts of a strong man originally made to relieve a mad Scientist’s tension.
Adam Lambert was a good choice for Eddie — his looks (and voice) definitely play in his favor, but I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t cast him as Frank N. Furter instead.
Ben Vereen as Dr Everest Scott was good. He was actually funny (this has to be noted, because others aren’t).
And then, there is Tim Curry, as the Criminologist. While it’s good seeing him, I think we were numerous shouting at our screens and asking WHY he had even agreed to this.
Honorable mention to Ivy Levan as Trixie the Usherette, whose opening segment and cover of Science Fiction/Double Feature was enjoyable!
About the film itself… Well, Kenny Ortega has directed the High School Musical trilogy and sadly for TRHPS ‘16, it shows. It’s about as politically correct as those, and it became as bubblegum pop as well. It is High School Musical, only with fishnet stockings and fabulous wigs. Also, Fox censors did it again ! Welcome to a PG-13 world :
- Eddie’s death is cut to the max, while is wasn’t even graphic in the first place. Ice Pick became a knife and Eddie died not in the Deep Freeze, but by falling through a window.
- Furter’s scenes in which he sneaks into Janet and Brad’s rooms are heavily censored and look like sex between two 10 year olds. Meaning no sex.
- Riff Raff and Magenta’s incestuous relationship has magically disappeared.
- Janet’s Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me! feels like a lie as there is no heavy petting whatsoever, and once again they look like they just enjoy jumping on beds instead of testing their actual resistance — So do Magenta and Columbia while they’re watching from behind their monitor.
- It is unclear whether Eddie is on the menu or not, however, if he is, he has no apparent cuts. He’s a woundless body (despite falling through a window). This makes the whole revealing scene incomprehensible for anyone who doesn’t have the original reference.
- Miraculously, the pool scene features a bit of same sex interactions (just a bit, but there is literally nothing else to hold onto in this RHPS travesty).
- The outfits are by no means daring. For a film that initially had a lot of sexual freedom, there is very little skin shown in this version made, ironically, 41 years later.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show : Let’s do the Time Warp Again is visually pleasing despite it all. If I may quote Principal Skinner from The Simpsons though, this film is like Egg Salad at a picnic; even if it looks good, we know it’s going bad. While the visuals may fool you at first, they quickly become a source of irritation, an excuse for a lack of anything else, of anything better and substantial.
The only fun idea of this sad mess : showing cuts of an audience attending the RHPS ‘16 projection and doing a few of the famous cult acts and dialogues that were added/created by fans amongst the years for the original (Shouting “Say it!” at the “Antici……pation” moment, throwing toilet paper in the air at the “Great Scott!” mention… There’s a standing ovation for Tim Curry at the beginning, too).
In a nutshell : Is it worth your time ? No. Is it worth showing to a new, younger audience ? Certainly not, just stick to the 1975 one for that, even if some say it’s dated (I think it’s not). Would I like it if it was an original creation ? Most probably. But it isn’t, and considering where it’s coming from, it’s not good. Laverne Cox has nothing to do with it, she was miscast.
Final rating ? 4/10.