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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cineprov, RiffTrax take on Twilight: New Moon

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse will occupy most of the screens at your neighborhood cineplex on Wed., June 30. Consequently, Cineprov, Atlanta's live, local movie-mocking improv show, will psyche up the Twi-Hards by screening and zinging last year's installment, New Moon on June 25. Cineprov shows take place at 8 p.m. Fridays at Relapse Theatre.

I somehow missed New Moon when it opened last fall, even though nearly broke $300 million and was one of the biggest hits of last year. In the spirit of great minds thinking alike, I decided to prepare for Eclipse by watching the second Twilight with comedic mediation, so I Netflixed New Moon and downloaded its $3.99 commentary from RiffTrax, the venture from "Mystery Science Theater 3000" alumni Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett. Here's a 10-minute highlight reel:

Mopey, mumbly, monochromatic and achingly self-important, the Twilight films are as ripe for ridicule as any big screen franchise. In fact, RiffTrax nearly meets its match with New Moon's dogged dullness — it's so downbeat and repetitious, you can almost feel Nelson and company straining to find fresh jokes, especially given that the film's more than two hours. (Sans commercial breaks and host segments, "MST3K" would mock its given movies for less than 90 minutes at a pop.) Some of the jokes come across as mean-spirited and almost desperately raunchy.

On the other hand, wan vampire Edward and his angsty high school flame Bella make such maddeningly blah leads, the audiences never feels inclined to defend them. Occasionally the film's preposterousness gives the riffers some great material. At one point, Bella sees visions of absent Edward that dissipate like magic smoke, prompting remarks like "Vampire fart boy, disperse!" Things lively up in the last half-hour with a campy trip to Italy, ruled by foppish, Eurotrash vampire royalty. Michael Sheen hams it up like he's trying to show the two leads that acting can be, you know, fun, and he serves as a great foil for the riffers.

Incidentally, I'd previously watched RiffTrax via the internet or their official DVDs, but this was the first time I'd actually bought one of the MP3s to play simultaneously with a film. RiffTrax provides plenty of how-to instructions, but it's still tricky to get them to sync up exactly — I spent some time with my iHome remote in one hand, my Blu-Ray remote in the other, hitting alternating pause buttons until they more or less matched up. It's worth it, though: a Twilight movie isn't something you want to watch alone.

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