DVD Review: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again

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Remaking The Rocky Horror Picture Show, as Fox 21 Television Studios did earlier this year, is a supremely weird prospect. The 1975 original is perhaps the ultimate cult classic of all time—still beloved more than four decades later, capable of packing in sold-out audiences wherever midnight screenings are held. Who exactly is this new made-for-TV remake intended to satisfy? Longtime Rocky Horror fans mostly bristle at the idea, while newbies are certainly advised to check out one of the available DVD or Blu-ray releases of the original. 
rsz_time_warp_again_reeve_carney.jpg Now 20th Fox Home Entertainment has issued Let's Do the Time Warp Again on DVD in an extended cut that runs 95 minutes, seven minutes longer than the October 20 TV premiere broadcast. The film, which essentially recreates the plot of the Jim Sharman-directed original, has of course been scrubbed relatively clean for mainstream network audiences. The boldest move in terms narrative structure made by director Kenny Ortega (Michael Jackson's This Is It) involves turning Rocky Horror basically into a film-within-a-film, crosscutting occasionally to an audience (a staged one comprised of actors/extras) watching from a movie theater. The intent was to capture some of the madness that occurs during real theatrical revivals of the original film, but it all feels unnecessary.

Probably for the worse, Time Warp is not a live production a la Grease: Live or NBC's The Wiz Live!. Some interesting, unscripted moments might have arisen had Ortega staged his remake in front of actual spectators. By setting the film in front of a fake audience, you get fake, stagy results. At any rate, the new cast is game but the performances are a mixed bag. Laverne Cox (Orange Is the New Black) as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the role made famous by the inimitable Tim Curry, seems to have difficulty truly owning the iconic role. As she plays host to wayward couple Janet (Victoria Justice) and Brad (Ryan McCarten), this Frank-N-Furter doesn't seem appreciably different except in terms of physical appearance. Probably this was the intent (i.e. honoring the original), but it comes off uninspired.
rsz_time_warp_again_dvd.jpg Ultimately the new The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again can't be recommended to anyone who hasn't yet experienced the original. Even though they're not likely to love it all that much, the new film will play best for longtime fans who are simply curious about what a 2016 re-imagining looks like.

Fox's DVD includes a pretty solid selection of extra features, led by a half-hour ComicCon 2016 panel featuring director Ortega and several cast members. We also find Laverne Cox's screen test (in which she performs two tunes). "Don't Dream It: Make It! is a ten-minute making-of featurette.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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