Alas, we have reached the end of the series. The notes on movies Kellie and I watched together have run out. To give the series the grand send-off it deserves, we present a double-feature review! Today we cover the first film of the egregious Twilight saga as well as introducing you to your new favourite way to watch movies, the downloadable comedy commentary website RiffTrax.
Curious as to the massive and inexplicable popularity of Twilight, Kellie picked the book up at Chapters and read a few pages. Describing it to me later she shook her head sadly and concluded, “It’s just a Mary-Sue“. I was unfamiliar with the term so she explained, “A Mary-Sue is basically a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader to read themselves into the lead role.”
So in deciding to watch the movie, rather than commit ourselves to 122 minutes of vamp-o-phile delusional fantasy, we decided to download the Rifftrax comedy commentary for the film and to watch both together.
The movie follows young Bella, a self-centered and introverted young lady, who moves to Forks, Washington. The students at her new school are disturbingly peppy and fawn over her continually with an inexplicable determination to make her the most popular girl in school. Bella makes a few cursory acquaintances who she then abandons to pursue Edward, a worryingly unstable, passive-aggressive young man who is the only one to not immediately deify her. Edward becomes increasingly possessive, stalks her and infiltrates her bedroom to watch her sleep. Naturally, Bella is unperturbed by this.
In between mood swings Edward reveals he is a vampire who wishes to devour her. As Bella gives up her friends, he takes her to meet his vampire family, explains that they avoid the sun because it makes them sparkle, and reveals that vampires love to play baseball… but only during thunderstorms, so us mere mortals will mistake the whack of bat against ball for thunder. Bella, unable to recognize the many continuing signs of an abusive, co-dependent relationship, begins to fall madly in love with Edward.
The film runs 3/4 of it’s course before suddenly attempting to inject a plot. Bad vampires crash the baseball game and want to eat Bella. A fight ensues, a bad vampire is killed and another escapes in order to ensure a sequel. Edward drones on about how he desperately wants to sink his teeth into a Bella burger and that they shouldn’t be together. Bella resolutely declares that he won’t and they should. They have no real chemistry or attraction to each other except the unhealthy excitement of their forbidden love.
The whole thing is nothing but teeth-gratingly slow melodrama. I think the simplest and most accurate summary would be “Twilight = emo + vampires + sparkles – plot”. The only thing that kept us from clawing out our own eyes with boredom was the hilarious commentary by RiffTrax.
RiffTrax is the brainchild of the crew responsible for the cult TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000. The premise behind MST3K is simple. The evil scientist Dr. Forrester has shot his janitor Mike into space where he endeavors to drive Mike insane by showing him the worst B-movies ever made. Meanwhile, the plucky janitor has constructed robot companions and together they weather the movies by continually picking them apart with a hilarious running commentary on the movies’ poor quality.
MST3K was a wildly popular underground classic, running for 11 years on the Comedy Channel and the Sci Fi Network. 198 episodes and a feature film were produced and the series was nominated for multiple Emmy awards and won a Peabody award for “producing an ingenious eclectic series”. After the series ended, the creators applied their hilarious fault-finding abilities to mainstream market movies. They set up RiffTrax, a website with downloadable MP3 commentaries that can be synced up with your DVD copy.
Kellie and I downloaded the commentary, synced it up with Twilight, and enjoyed two of the most hilarious hours we ever spent together. They pulled no punches, poking fun of Robert Pattison’s Edward as a “hideous, pale, effeminate James Dean” and observing aloud, “so… she loves him based on him not killing her… yeah, that’s healthy”. During the many scenes of overwrought emotion as characters stare at each other searching for just the right words, the commentary continually calls out, “Line! What’s my line!?” spoiling the tension in an absolutely priceless manner.
When the movie ended I found myself with 8 pages of notes covered one-liners which Kellie and I spent the next few days quoting, instantly cracking each other up. We enjoyed the experience so much that we downloaded the RiffTrack for Iron Man, and enjoyed similarly hilarious results. For a mere $4 per commentary, RiffTrax is a fantastic way to bring new life to your favourite movies, from newer DVD releases like Star Trek and Transformers 2 to old favourites such as the original Star Wars, Jaws or Casablanca. And it’ll certainly do more than garlic and crucifixes will to help you survive the vampire-wangst of Twilight.