Recap: Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Movie
Every year, Hollywood makes hundreds of films. This is one of them.
Film watched: This Island Earth
For YMMV entries, click here
The MST3K version provides examples of:
- Anal Probing: The topic of two of Servo's riffs.
- Actor Allusion: Steve Carlson is played by Russell Johnson, so a few jokes center around his role on Gilligan's Island and the use of Bamboo Technology.
- Artistic License - Physics: Discussed and lampshaded - when the Hubble Telescope suddenly falls and burns up (and presumably blows up in an incredible offscreen fireball), Mike points out that it shouldn't even be possible for it to suddenly drop out of orbit like that.
- Big Budget Beef-Up: Of particular note is the famous theater hallway, which is now a real full-size hallway. Mike and the Bots even stroll through it in one scene.
- Brick Joke: The original ending had Crow returning to trying to tunnel out of the satellite, this time with the chainsaw he found in Servo's room. This had to be cut because the focus groups found the original ending too long.
- Creator Backlash: Due to the heavy Executive Meddling by Gramercy executives. It's worth noting though in the behind-the-scenes feature on the DVD and Blu-Ray, that Kevin Murphy seems to be the only one of The Brains (or at least of the ones interviewed) that doesn't seem too bitter over the final product. He says that he doesn't consider the film a complete failure, that it's great that most fans still enjoy it, despite all the changes made, and at least the movie is better than Barb Wire. He also relishes the fact that Barb Wire made Gramercy lose *way* more money than ''MST3K: The Movie'' did.
- Kevin went on record in that special as saying that "making the movie was one of the best experiences of my life. Dealing with the studio when doing so was one of the worst"
- Completely Different Title: In Brazil, it was released under the title The Stupidest Movie In The World.
- Epic Fail: Mike busts up the Hubble so bad it somehow drops through space. Mike (and the viewer) has no idea how that even works.
- Executive Meddling: According to Best Brains Inc., the film was horribly mangled by the distributors, Grammercy Pictures: amongst other things they insisted on a movie with substantially more quality than the average MST3K fare (probably the only point on which Grammercy and Best Brains agreed, though this movie wasn't the latter's first choice), a shorter running time, and less obscure riffs to make the movie more accessible. They also threw in some random profanity to just so the movie could be rated PG-13. Best Brains considered the movie to be the least satisfying project they have worked on and even included not-so-subtle Take Thats at Grammercy in the host segments of The Incredible Melting Man episode. The distributors had a choice of which film to put their full support behind: this one, or Barb Wire. They chose the latter, leaving this film to barely make it into theaters. They also insisted the movie have something of an overarching plot. The film begins with Crow trying to tunnel his way out, he picks up a chainsaw in the next scene, and then the ending was going to have him try to tunnel out of the Satellite of Love again with the chainsaw. The ending bit with Crow trying to escape with the chainsaw was cut because the original ending was much longer, and focus groups complained that the movie was too long, so the ending was changed to a shorter one, and many parts of This Island Earth cut out. The focus group consisted of people who'd never heard of the show, and didn't understand it!
- It's not uncommon for a movie studio to gather people for a focus group who are unfamiliar with the source material. For example, if you're a Tim Burton fan, it's unlikely you'd be chosen to be part of a focus group for one of his movies. The thinking is, you'd have a biased opinion and think, "Tim Burton is a genius! Nothing in this film should be changed!" So they're going to pick people who don't really know who Tim Burton is, or maybe people who are familiar with his movies, but not Burton per se.
- In any case, the Executive Meddling of the movie prompted Trace Beaulieu, the last of the KTMA-era cast members, to leave the show after Season 7.
- Worst part? As The Agony Booth's recap of Barb Wire made sure to point out:
- Failed a Spot Check: Of course parodied: when Crow breaches the hull he asks for the blueprints to his plan. The paper flies into his face and he reads it over. "Oh look at that, 'Breach Hull, all die!' I even had it underlined!"
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Tom Servo blocks the hull breach with his hoverskirt, he starts giggling as the vacuum of space sucks at him from underneath, declaring, "I'm experiencing a sensation altogether new to me — and frankly, I love it!" When Mike removes him, he growls, "Aw, darn..."
- In the German dub, the riffers all declare the Interociter as "Die Muschibildschirm!" (literally "pussy screen").
- The MutAnt is given the name "Scrotor" by the gang.
- Cal jerking on his joystick elicits some bemused reactions by the crew as well.
Servo: Should we be watching this?
Cal: Jerking around caused a flameout.
(Servo chuckles nervously.)
- A God I Am: Forrester when he overrides the interocitor signal and fires beams at the crew to get them back to the theater room.
- Gratuitous German: One of the riffs has Tom speaking in German.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: The Brazillian dub counts with Marcio Simões (Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Kevin Spacey, Will Smith, Danny Glover, Alec Baldwin and Laurence Fishburne) as Mike, Alexandre Moreno (Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller) as Tom Servo and Guilherme Briggs (Denzel Washington, Brendan Fraser, Owen Wilson, Optimus Prime and Cosmo) as Crow.
- The German dub was translated by Oliver Kalkofe (Tom Servo) and has Oliver Welke as Crow.
- Homage: The movie's opening credits play over Mike jogging along the inside of a circular track, similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey...but Mike's in a human-sized hamster wheel.
- Complete with hanging water bottle.
- Ironic Echo: When Tom reveals he has an Interociter, Mike's skeptical about it, with Tom replying "Doesn't everybody?" When their attempt to use it to escape fails and Forrester's ugly mug shows up, he replies "Auntie Em! Auntie Em! Surprise! Like who doesn't have an Interocitor?!"
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Mike's revelation that he's an instrument-rated pilot in Microsoft Flight Simulator prompts Crow and Servo to dare him to take the controls of the Satellite of Love. Five seconds later, the Hubble telescope is destroyed. Notably, he complains when they make the dare that piloting a satellite is nothing like piloting a plane.
- If My Calculations Are Correct: Crow plans to escape the Satellite of Love by tunneling out of it. "Hey, I calculated the odds of this succeeding versus the odds that I was doing something incredibly stupid, and... I went ahead anyway."
- "Wow, look at that! 'Breach hull, all die.' Even had it underlined!"
- Kneel Before Zod: Dr. Forrester forces Mike and the Bots to bow down to him.
- Medium Awareness:
- Averted for a change. Crow doesn't know why their credits would involve puppeteers.
- There's an odd reversal from the show, which had the SOL crew talk to the audience regularly while the Mads mostly ignored them. Here, Dr. Forrester talks directly to us to set up the premise, while the crew ignore us, save for a brief moment after the Hubble is destroyed. When Mike and the 'Bots head back to the theater, Gypsy looks at the camera, groans "Boys", and then shakes her head disapprovingly.
- Memetic Badass: In-universe; during the credits, we get the AMAZING RANDO!
- Out-of-universe, the AMAZING RANDO! is art director Rando Schmook. Born and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Schmook took to the rails and explored the entire lower 48 states via freight train before perusing a degree in architecture, which he used to design sets for Hollywood movies, including My Cousin Vinny. Rando really was amazing to the rest of BBI, who credit him with fully achieving the look they were going after, as well as being amused by his eccentricities, which included showing up to work in ratty sneakers and changing into freshly shined black patent leather tuxedo shoes before starting his work (he claimed the soles allowed him to run around sets faster), and changing back into said sneakers before leaving for the day. He also apparently only ate a pound of Oscar Mayer bologna slices (no bread or condiments) for lunch every day, with no other food or drink consumed the rest of the time.
- The Movie
- Mundane Made Awesome: The "hallway to the theater" transitions are accompanied by a ridiculously majestic score (especially the first one). It's probably safe to assume that this was a parody of the trope.
- "Normal view, Normal viewwww, Normal viewwwwww, NORMAL VIEWWWWWW!!!!"
- Oh Crap: In the original ending when Crow intends to chainsaw his way out of the So L.
- Precision F-Strike: Even if it was Executive Meddling, they made good use out of it:
Tom: (On first seeing Metaluna) What kind of shithole planet is this?!
- And a couple minutes later:
Tom: No, I could've sworn we parked on level C, right next to the — [sees space monster around the corner] oh, shit.
- Room Full of Crazy: We finally get a good look at the room of Tom Servo, which contains a race car-shaped bed, a chainsaw, a collection of lamps, his massive underwear collection, and an interocitor.
- Running Gag: As one example, there's "The Amazing Rando!" from the credits.
- Shout-Out/Mythology Gag: One of the theater doors has a cast of TV's Frank's face on it. The "hard copy of the status report" that Gypsy gives Mike is actually an old Satellite News from the MST3K Info Club. The "Manipulator Arm" Mike uses to delicately pry the Hubble off the SOL's hull is labeled "Manos" and is accompanied by a brief snippet of Torgo's leitmotif. Many, many references to 2001: A Space Odyssey, especially during the opening credits.
- As Crow attempts to tunnel out of the Satellite, he sings "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" which is a reference to The Mary Tyler Moore Show finale; this is later repeated in the series finale of MST3K itself.
- In the intro sequence, the closeup on Gypsy's eye is both a reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey and a callback to the Mitchell episode of MST3K itself.
- Something Person: "This is a job for Weenie Man!"
- Space Is an Ocean: The controls of the Satellite Of Love are almost identical to a boat's helm. To the point Gypsy (whose major duty in-series is running the satellite) drives it while wearing a captain's hat and singing "What Do You Do with a Drunken Sailor".
- When Mike fixes the Hubble Space Telescope with the S.O.L.'s robotic arms, and then releases it into space, the Hubble falls like a waterlogged ship falling into the ocean. The look of incredulity on Mike's face is priceless to any audience members who understand orbital mechanics.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: The riffers have a lot of fun with the fact that the main characters are fooled by the obvious aliens.
Tom:(As Exitor) Then I'll ram my overpositor down your throat and lay my eggs in your thorax but I'm not an alien.
- Typeset in the Future: The opening credits use the Eurostile font to parody serious science fiction films.
- What Could Have Been: A few years ago, Joel Hodgson stated in interviews that the real reason he left was because of Creative Differences with Jim Mallon over this project. Joel admitted he was afraid of splitting BBI as a result (he didn't want anyone taking sides against each other), which would have damaged the show itself, so he left. One wonders how the history of MST3K would have been very different had the movie never been made. Paramount head Brandon Tartikoff was interested in producing a movie circa-1993, but he wanted an Origins Episode about how Joel got onto the SOL and built the Bots, with far less movie riffing than expected. Joel turned him down and was backed up by the entire BBI crew.
- A deleted scene had the Satellite of Love caught in a meteor shower, and Mike nearly dies when the air supply is cut off and Crow and Servo have to save him. The original ending also involved the crew warping Scrotor (the alien from the film) down to Deep 13 with the Interocitor to get revenge on Dr. Forrester. Gramercy had them cut for being too long, and the special features show that the Brains were not happy about either scene being cut.
- Gramercy wanted the credits to be a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue instead of the crew riffing the credits. Best Brains actually won this battle, though, and the credits were as they originally planned.
- Your Head A Splode: Servo's dome seems to be a magnet for interocitor beams.