The pity of Rifftrax Live: Starship Troopers is that the original 1997 movie was supposed to be funny, but it failed so miserably at that job that now comedians are encouraging us to laugh at the movie rather than with it. Despite never having finished reading the Robert Heinlein novel on which it’s based, Paul Verhoeven turned it into a science-fiction explosionfest featuring beautiful young people happily joining the military to kill giant alien insect robots. Having escaped Nazis in his native Netherlands during World War II, Verhoeven originally intended his film to be a satire on fascism. (You’ll notice that every time characters are wounded, they tell the heroes to leave them to die. And the heroes do it, too!) Unfortunately, Verhoeven — never a laugh machine as a director — botched the satire so badly that many critics accused him of glorifying the very things he sought to make fun of.
On Thursday night, you can hear the Mystery Science Theater guys bring a better comic eye to the material. Expect them to make fun of the outdated special effects, the coed showers that the young soldiers use, the fact that all the characters have Latino names yet are played by white actors, and the badness of said white actors. (These include Denise Richards and Casper van Dien, although you may be shocked by the appearance of a baby-faced Neil Patrick Harris in a small role.) Perhaps these comedians can succeed where Verhoeven failed and successfully poke holes in the characters’ glory-or-death mentality.
[box_info]Rifftrax Live: Starship Troopers screens at 7pm Thu at various theaters; check Calendar for locations. Tickets are $10.50-12.50. Call 818-761-6100.[/box_info]