Film Review: RiffTrax: Night of the Shorts IV – SF Sketchfest (2016)

Release Date: January 7th, 2016
Written by: Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Bridget Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, Paul F. Tompkins
Cast: Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Bridget Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, Paul F. Tompkins, John Hodgman, Cole Stratton, Adam Savage, Janet Varney

RiffTrax, 123 Minutes

Review:

This RiffTrax Live event recently dropped on Amazon Video, so I thought I’d check it out, as I really like when these guys make a feature length event where they riff a series of shorts.

Now this wasn’t as great as the most recent short riffing event, Summer Shorts Beach Party, but I still quite enjoyed it. Although, that David & Hazel, two parter was a bit tough to get through.

This did have a variety of shorts on varying topics, however. Most of them were entertaining. Apart from David & Hazel – a film about communication, we got The Trouble with Women – about women in the workplace, Dining Together – about Thanksgiving, One Got Fat – about bicycle safety and starring kids in monkey masks, Improve Your Pronunciation – self-explanatory, and Robin’s Wild Ride, which was the third chapter in the Batman & Robin serial from 1949.

I like that this event featured more than just Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy from Mystery Science Theater 3000. The live events where they do shorts usually feature guest riffers, though. This time around, we got the returning Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson. Paul F. Thompkins, who has become a regular at these things, also appears. MythBusters‘ Adam Savage joins in, as do comedians John Hodgman, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton. The final short film featured all ten people on stage together.

Ultimately, these events are always fun and for fans of the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000, it is hard not to completely succumb to nostalgia. Again and again, these funny people prove that they’ve still got it and it is always great checking back in with them a few times, each year.

While not my favorite of their events, they have never had a bad one. They are masters of what they do and they never miss a beat. Night of the Shorts IV was just one of many great outings by this great crew and their friends.

*trailer from the previous ‘Night of the Shorts’ event, as there wasn’t a proper trailer for this installment.

Film Review: RiffTrax Live: Summer Shorts Beach Party (2017)

Release Date: June 15th, 2017
Written by: Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Bridget Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Paul F. Tompkins
Cast: Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Bridget Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, Paul F. Tompkins

RiffTrax, 120 Minutes

Review:

While this isn’t a typical movie in a movie format, I did see it theatrically, as it was intended, and I had a damn fine time.

Unlike most of the RiffTrax Live events, this one wasn’t about featuring a single motion picture. This event showcased a series of educational shorts.

For fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000, riffing on educational shorts is a long and celebrated tradition by these guys. Back then, shorts were used to fill up the two-hour time slot if the featured movie wasn’t long enough. MST3K often times used low budget B-movies from yesteryear. Usually those movies have much shorter running times so the space on the show had to be filled. This RiffTrax special honored that part of their legacy.

This show also was a MST3K reunion of sorts, as it didn’t just feature Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett but it included Trace Beaulieu, Frank Contiff, Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson. Comedian Paul F. Tompkins also showed up for this riffing extravaganza.

The shorts Ricky Raccoon Shows the Way and Rhythmic Ball Skills were riffed by the normal team of Mr. Nelson, Murphy and Corbett. Office Etiquette was handled by Beaulieu and Contiff while The Griper was riffed by Pehl and Mrs. Nelson. A Touch of Magic was presented by Paul F. Tompkins, as well as Mr. Nelson, Murphy and Corbett. The final and most bizarre short of the seven featured was The Baggs, which was riffed by the entire cast.

Before the big finale, which was The Baggs, they showed a cool clip reel of the best of the 300-plus other shorts they have riffed over the years.

I really enjoyed this style of RiffTrax event, even more so than them just riffing on a movie. The two hours flew by and I found myself laughing a lot more than I do with typical theatrical comedies. The theater I was at wasn’t packed but the people there were really enjoying themselves and letting loose. It was the best theatergoing experience I have had in years.

Ultimately, I hope they do more events like this. It was a blast and I’m even considering going back to catch the encore in a few days.