Oh, It's on.

Recently Rifftrax.com announced that the latest Rifftrax coming out was going to be Batman and Robin. I can’t think of a movie that deserves it more, but the cool part is that this riff was all written by the fans. There was a contest where fans watched the horrible movie and wrote the jokes and submitted them to Riffrafftheater.com. The guys at Riffraff compiled the jokes and picked out the best ones, then sent it to Rifftrax, where Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett vowed to riff the fan-submitted script unedited.

It is a really cool concept and shows how much the guys at Rifftrax respect the fans. It also shows how much they didn’t want to watch Batman and Robin over and over again. But hey, the fans get to suffer through the writing process and in return they get to hear the guys riff the jokes they submitted. A geek thrill to be sure.

This got me curious about Riffraff Theater. How did this come about in the first place? Well it turns out that some guys on the Rifftrax forum decided to put together a fan riff. They picked Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and accepted submissions from the other fans on the board. They then put the riff together themselves using their own voices. In the meantine the guys at Rifftrax decided to do their own Harry Potter and the fan riff came out around the same time as the Rifftrax one did. Evidently the guys over at Rifftrax were so impressed by the fan riff that they approached Riffraff Theater about putting together Batman and Robin.

Happy Rotter

This got me thinking.

You See, Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone was one of the first Rifftrax I downloaded. I did so because I liked the film and because I already had it in my DVD library. I did my best to synch the Rifftrax to the film’s audio and burned a new DVD with the Rifftrax commentary.

But when Mrs. Edge and I got around to watching it, we found out that I didn’t get the sound quite right. There were times when I couldn’t hear the jokes Mike and the guys were making and times I couldn’t make out what the characters on screen were saying. Still, we had a good time with it and laughed quite a lot.

Rifftraxed version

Well, since the Riffraff Theater version of Harry Potter was a free download, I thought why not make a new DVD copy. I could use my much improved sound mixing skills and add the Riffraff Track to the Rifftrax DVD so that I would have multiple ways to view the movie.

So I went to work and while I was putting the two versions together I ran across another Harry Potter riff. Actually it wasn’t so much a riff as an alternate telling of the movie. It is called Wizard People, Dear Reader and was put together by a man called Brad Neely. It got some good reviews and was also free so I thought, what the heck, why not? I downloaded the audio track and put all three on the same disk.

I called it my Happy Rotter Rifftracular Special and I was looking forward to watching it. Then I got it into me head to write a three riff review for my site. So last night I watched Harry Potter three friggin times in a row. Oddly enough, I didn’t get bored. I enjoyed each viewing in its own way. Here are the results.

First of all my impressions of the film itself:

Mrs. Edge and I are big time Potter fans. We have read all the books. In fact, we read them aloud to eachother because neither one of us wanted to be the one to read it second. We had a lot of fun discussing plot points and guessing what was going to happen.

So we enjoyed this first Potter movie. It was fun and had a similar tone as the first book did. However it wasn’t the home run it could have been, and I guess that it is just because of the youth of the actors and the goofy way each line seems to be delivered by Ron and Hermione. Still, I like the movie even after seeing it lambasted three times in the same day.

The Riffraff Version:

Well this one was written by the fans and it shows. There are a lot of good lines in there, but they are also mixed in with a lot of lines that aren’t very funny at all. Now don’t get me wrong. When you throw a joke out every few seconds during a two and a half hour film, not all of them are going to stick. Rifftrax and MST3K put a lot of bad jokes out with the good. So it’s to be expected. But a couple things stood out for me with this one.

For one thing the sound on the riff was pretty bad. I read up on it and evidently the guys had the equipment turned up too high when they recorded the riff so every line sounds like it’s at the limits of what the system can handle. Another thing that bothered me was getting used to the voices. Maybe it was their youthfulness or something, but I couldn’t tell the riffers apart, they were all pretty high pitched. Maybe it also had something to do with the equipment.

However, I must say that overall they did a pretty good job. I think it is to their advantage to have so many writers. Having a ton of fans submit their scripts means that they can pick and choose the best jokes. The only disadvantage to it is that unlike the regular Rifftrax guys, they don’t seem to develop their own voice. You can listen to a Rifftrax and usually tell who wrote what joke.

But hey, they are offering this first riff for free. It is a good solid two and a half hours of entertainment for zero dollars, what is there to complain about? I think that they will only get better. Their next offering is going to be Keanu Reeve’s film Speed and they are following that up with Tron. I am looking forward to seeing their improvement. I may even submit a Tron script myself.

The Rifftrax version:

What can I say? Mike and the guys are polished professionals. They seem to instinctively know which jokes are funny and they have the delivery down. The also did their Potter research. They know the story well enough that they get several potter Universe jokes in. The Dumbledore gay jokes for instance. They also throw in a spattering of inside jokes that only Rifftrax fans would get, like the Bonesaw reference in the clip above. (It’s from their Spiderman riff.)

The poor acting skills of the young actors is often pointed out to hilarious effect. Chris Columbus and JK take a fair amount of ribbing too. But it’s all in good fun. They don’t seem to have any real hate of the film and you can tell by the playfulness of the jokes. Mrs. Edge and I really enjoyed this one.

The Brad Neely Wizard People version:

I wan’t expecting to like this too much. I went to Brad Neely’s site and read some of his comics. I wan’t too impressed. But I saw a clip at youtube and found it amusing so I put the track on my disc. When I popped it in, I figured that I would watch enough of it to get a feel for it. I ended up watching the whole thing.

Mr Neely takes the story of this first movie and changes it in many subtle ways. He is obviously a fan. He seems to care about the characters and you don’t lose a sense of who they are. He does make some changes though. Harry, intead of being a wide-eyed innocent knows exactly how powerful he is and simply puts up with everyone treating him like a kid.

Ron Weasley is “Ron The Bear” a magnificent warrior with enormous brain power. Hermione is “Harmony the Wretch” a beast of a creature that proves herself useful to the group. Snape is portrayed as a female to hilarious effect. Dumbledore is “Nearly Dead Dumbledore”.

Mr. Neely’s storytelling style is hilarious. He alternates between a poetic mix of words and crass lowbrow humor at the drop of a hat. I would recommend this track wholeheartedly except for one thing. The language. He dropped a few f-bombs in the first hour of the film but about half way through they start falling like it was f-bomb armageddon. The children go from saying “gee wilickers” to cursing like a sailor’s foul mouthed friend. If it wasn’t so witty I could have sworn that Quentin Tarentino wrote the dialog.

So if you don’t mind your ears being melted off of your skull, this track is a treat. He make the ending of the film so much better than the original version. Ron Weasley is my hero now.

Ronald the Bear Weasley folds his arms just for you.

You may be wondering which out of all the riffs I saw, I liked the most. I would have to go with the Rifftrax version. Mike and the guys got game.

Keep an eye out for the Rifftrax of Batman and Robin coming out 1/29. Written by the fans, Riffed by the professionals.

Coming soon