Rocky Horror Review: Fox’s Remake Is Great, Ghoulish Fun, Except For
The recent tendency of Tv set musical incidents has been clean up to now — the Audio of Music squeaky, Grease Live! — however now Fox gets filthy with a remake of the 1975 cult common The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It’s lewd, crude, but still surprising forty years later, and Fox’s new version (airing Thursday night, 8/7c) is a captivating version that faithfully catches the nature of the initial. But… gleam fatal flaw here that threatens to ruin the whole get together.
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For the first twenty minutes roughly, this new Rocky Horror (subtitled Let’s Do enough time Warp Again) is firing on all cylinders. The whole story, unless you know: Innocent young buffs Brad (Ryan McCartan) and Janet (Victoria Justice) get into a spooky castle over a dark and stormy nights and are corrupted by the hedonistic, S&M revelry occurring inside. The Gothed-out ghouls they meet include droll butler Riff Raff (Reeve Carney), cackling maid Magenta (Christina Milian) and flamboyant ringleader Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox), who’s created her own Frankenstein’s monster: Rocky Horror (Staz Nair), a bronzed god in fantastic underwear.
The Rocky Horror Picture ShowDie-hard supporters shall notice a few improvements occasionally. Inside a nod to the film’s famous midnight screenings, a rowdy audience of theatergoers chimes in on the action with shouts and props once in a while. (When Janet covers her head with a newspaper to prevent the rain, they actually, too.) But generally, the remake takes on it straight, allowing the original’s glam-rock soundtrack and weirdo heroes work their weird magic. One particular showcase: the show-stopping amount “Time Warp,” which gets an all-out, rock-star makeover with Riff Raff strumming a neon-blue guitar.
But Laverne Cox makes her access as Frank-N-Furter then… and the film’s momentum is ended cold. This is not supposed as a slam on Cox’s performing abilities; she’s fantastic on Orange May be the New Black, this past season especially. But she’s glaringly miscast here. She doesn’t stick out from her misfit horde like Frank should. Her performing isn’t up to snuff with all of those other cast. Her highlight ranges wildly from “Tim Curry impression” to “Southern belle” to something among. And even more generally, the essential notion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter loses a few of its shock value when the role is manufactured female, as it is here now. (Is she a good “Sweet Transvestite” any longer?)
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Perhaps it’s unjust to expect one to surpass the iconic original performance by Tim Curry, who luckily shows up here as the Narrator to provide the remake his blessing. But Adam Lambert makes a cameo as rock-‘n’-roll biker Eddie… and I came across myself wishing he previously played out Frank instead. (Lambert was actually offered the role, but passed.) The unlucky the fact is, Cox’s ill-conceived portrayal drags down what should be considered a fun, raunchy romp. And it’s really even more frustrating because the others of the Rocky’s ensemble is terrific.
The Rocky Horror Picture ShowIt’s a rock-solid outfit, top to lower part, but I’ll talk about a few standouts. As Riff Raff, Carney (Cent Dreadful) also offers huge shoes to complete, but he steals every field he’s within deadpan jokes and a killer performing speech. McCartan (Disney’s Liv and Maddie) and Justice (Nickelodeon’s Victorious) both result from kids’ TV, nonetheless they confidently step into (very) adult functions here with excellent abandon. And Experts of Sex’s Annaleigh Ashford comes with an infectious spark as blue-tongued groupie Columbia. They’re all so excellent that I needed to spend additional time with them — and less with Frank.
As I’ve said, this remake is devotedly faithful to the initial film… too faithful maybe. The film’s plot goes off the rails quite a lttle bit in the ultimate act, devolving into out-of-left-field musical numbers and sci-fi gobbledygook. And the remake sadly follows suit, with the high energy of the first hour petering out near to the final end. I wouldn’t expect director Kenny Ortega and his crew to create a new third act from scratch, however the fragile way everything wraps continues to be a letdown.
Like a Rocky Horror admirer, I must say I relished a lot of Fox’s remake: The tracks remain toe-tappingly catchy; the storyline continues to be delightfully subversive. (Like pizza, a mediocre Rocky Horror continues to be very good even.) However the Cox casting was an epic miscalculation that the production can’t fully get over. Which really is a pity, because this really could’ve been a home run — a fresh Halloween vintage, even. As is, it’s just a missed opportunity.
THE TVLINE IMPORTANT THING: Fox’s Rocky Horror is mainly a lively Halloween treat… but Laverne Cox’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter visits a sour be aware.