Cinema Sins and Rifftrax are two different properties but for some they make the same mistake. Rifftrax is of course the continuation by Mystery Science Theater 3000 hosts Mike Nelson (Mike), Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo), and Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot) making fun of movies by recording an audio track you play alongside a movie, allowing them to riff even big name disasters. Cinema Sins looks over movies to find plotholes, dumb decisions by characters, and various other flaws in bad movies.
Where they’re getting flack, especially Cinema Sins in circles I travel, is when they go beyond bad movies and go after good movies. One of my fellow Reviewers Unknown refugees, Jerry “The Film Renegado” Nava, hates Cinema Sins at least in part because of their looking at good movies and finding flaws. The consensus of this group is that good movies should be left alone when there are so many bad movies to riff on or point out flaws for. Now I will never tell people that they should or shouldn’t like something because mind control is against my creed. However I will defend their rights to take on even the good movies with two words: nothing’s perfect.
Cinema Sins goes after your favorite movies. They go after MY favorite movies. They recently released a video for Up, which is my favorite Pixar movie. Jeremy, the usual host, did a review of the original Pete’s Dragon, which I happen to like but drove him nuts. In both cases their reasoning made sense, and they do take sins off for good moments even in bad movies, whether it’s the writing, a good character moment, or just a bad#$% moment. That said, their tagline is “no movie is without sin”, and they’re right. Even the best movies suffer from bad decisions on the characters’ part in order to make an event happen. Nobody catches everything, especially when whatever was written by the writers can be changed by the director, the producers, the studio, a script doctor or five, and even the actors, who may not like a line or want to do something that is signature of their style, like Johnny Depp or Robin Williams. (Probably the only time those two will be compared together.) It’s inevitable that even a really good movie will make a mistake.
And yes, some of the “sins” are nitpicky or just the host’s personal opinion. That’s because this is not a review. It’s a comedy. While you can actually learn things to keep in mind should you want to be a storyteller, it’s meant for entertainment, not to be taken seriously. They’re trying to poke fun at the mistakes movies have to make in order to get their story the way they want it. Cracked.com does the same thing. How It Should Have Ended does the same thing. And yet if those two sites get yelled at for this as well, I haven’t heard it. I hear people saying they hate Cinema Sins but not How It Should Have Ended. Is it their approach? Do cartoons make every complaint better? What am I missing here?
As for Rifftrax getting flack for riffing on a supposedly good movie…so what? You’ve never sat around with your friends and remarked on odd things in good movies? I can point out silly things in The NeverEnding Story, and it’s my all-time favorite movie. Like why are the statues naked? (And apparently the statues on set actually were naked but the heads wouldn’t fit in the studio. 12-year-old Noah Hathaway was basically staring up at giant breasts with no eyes to be pointed to. And now there are questions during his ConnectiCon visit I’m glad weren’t asked about him. That would have meant more censoring on my part.
Look, I like movies. Of course I do; they’re a good way to tell stories. And we all have our favorites, there are plenty of lists of cinematic classics that may contain the same movie, and on that list are movies you or I may not like. But no story is a perfect little snowflake that needs to be protected. I don’t think riffing, say, Casablanca, or pointing out any flaws in the movie, is some form of heresy. It doesn’t change the movie from being a masterpiece of film that I totally need to see sometime but it’s never on when I know about it and can watch it. But when you’ve seen the movie a few hundred times you may notice flaws or you poke some fun at it just to freshen up the experience. Cinema Sins has gone after movies they enjoy, like Die Hard as well as movies they hate, like Die Hard With A Vengeance. If Rifftrax takes on a movie you like it doesn’t mean they’re attacking it. It just means they found enough funny comments they could make to sit down and record them.
Yes, I know there are plenty of bad movies, so many that MST3K made a comeback on Netflix, and those will elicit the most jokes because they’re bad. However, taking on a good movie doesn’t mean they have to stop looking at bad movies. There are plenty of bad movies, but there are also plenty of riffers, not just the Rifftrax team, and plenty of actual reviews who only exist to punish bad fare. There aren’t that many looking at good stuff and saying “there’s comedy here” and doing so. How many times do you need to be told Manos: The Hands Of Fate is horrible? Or Birdemic? Why can’t you take the good and take the bad. (Insert The Facts Of Life theme song.) Cinema Sins is right. No movie IS without sin, even the ones on the AFI 500, and not even the ones we enjoy. Can’t we have some fun with that? There isn’t enough fun. It’s not like they’re attacking religion. Now THAT bugs me, especially when it’s mine.