The question was semi-answered Tuesday night as Fox premiered it’s shot-in-Toronto re-boot of the ’70s cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Fox PR department pulled out all the stops for the packed screening, with party hats and boas provided at the door along with a collector’s necklace which sported ruby red lips.
Executive producer and former Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman was in attendance and urged the audience to “feel it, do it.” There was taped messages from choreographer Kenny Ortega as well as the new Frank-N-Furter, Laverne Cox.
Fox held the screening after 10 p.m. to try to capture some of that midnite double bill magic. MIPCOM crowds spend long days dragging themselves from booth to booth, however, and few were putting their hands on their hips and jumping to the right, etc. A few held lighted iPhones and other mobile devices high up at the parts that used to call for striking matches, a sad reminder that the digital age is just not as much fun. If only the airlines had allowed people to bring their new Samsung 7s, there could have been real fires in the grand auditorium.
Now, full disclosure: I saw the original film when it first came out at the Kingsway Theatre in Etobicoke, Ont. — not as a patron, but as an usher. It was a high school job. I have a vivid memory of the weird opening with the crazy close up of those flaming lips. This was when audiences first saw it and didn’t know what to make of it — and didn’t know to make a party out of it. As a former usher, I can’t imagine all the clean up later picking up rice, toast, newspapers, whatever.
The remake, which airs Thursday on Fox and City, starts briskly. It’s fun to see all the singing and dancing in front of Toronto’s Casa Loma, tarted up to look like a movie theatre. Interiors were shot inside the Royal Alexander Theatre, which also looked cool on the big screen.
Fun also to see always reliable Jayne Eastwood in a small role as “The Butler.”
Less fun was watching Tim Curry as the narrator. Curry made the original film sizzle as Frank-N-Furter. Cox tried to rise to Curry’s level by ramping up reads on “Antici-PATION!” and “Come up to the lab…” Director Ortega punches those connections with fun editing and camera work, but it just reminds you how well it was all played the first time.
As well, Curry’s contributions were limited due to the effects of a 2012 stroke. As game as he is, it’s a bit hard for those of us there the first time to see time march on and vitality slip away.
The original film, for all its cult cleverness, fell apart mid-way through. Same with the new effort, which seems longer– although the late hour was a factor for some of us.
The new Brad and Janet — Victoria Justice and Ryan McCartan — are no Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. Cox brings edge to the role, and a strange vocal range, but Curry had way more fun with the songs.
Lost is much of the punk creepiness of the original. Instead we get plenty of high energy dance numbers as in the recent TV makeover of Grease. My feeling is Fox could not go far enough with this tale of sweet transvestites from transsexual Transylvania — it might have worked better on HBO or Netflix.
The commercial breaks will also leave you going, “Dammit, Janet.”