Can a film be too goofy for riffing?

So I recently saw a movie called Get Mean. A low budget western (in only the loosest sense) that was the last part of a series. While watching, it was so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but think that it would be a great film for MST3K or RiffTrax. But as I continued to watch, I started to wonder.

For those who are not aware of the film, this “western” has our “hero” trying to get a princess to Spain while fighting off Barbarians, Moors, Ghosts and even more nonsense. There might be time travel involved, it’s hard to tell.

And as I am getting to the end of this picture, I start to realize that this is SO over the top, what would riffing add. Could this be too ridiculous for insightful commentary and would it end up with the gang just going ‘What!’

My question to all of you is can you see a film being too silly to make an episode out of? Or can any movie to tackled with enough creativity and editing?

While I am of either thought on this, it did make me want to ask. What do you, the viewers at home think?

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According to Joel, no; even the most absurd, seemingly riffing itself piece of work.

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IMO, I think any film can be riffed. I have wondered if a comedy film could be riffed - jokes about jokes? I bet they could pull it off. :v::heart::clapper:

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I think most movies can be riffed (although I’d say that really dark/depressing ones could be problematic), but some are too full of ineptitude or winks at the audience to make it much of a challenge for riffing.

I mean, when a movie shows people reacting to a horrible tragedy off screen, then cuts to


And back and forth several times… It’s not easy to add much to that.

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Crow holds up sign: “Insert riff here”

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That would be a brilliant way to handle that scene.

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I think anything is possible, but the goofiness levels of movies would require different approaches. I do think the best riffing is of bad movies that take themselves fully seriously.

This did remind me of the glory days of SNL (or SCTV, I don’t remember which) when someone reported that they had tried to do a send up of Laverne & Shirley, but realized it was already a self-parody. So they would end up just writing an episode of the show. So they didn’t.

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I think it’s hard to riff a self-consciously stupid comedy (your Deuce Bigelows or your Dude Where’s My Cars…es), but Rifftrax managed to do Sharknado so anything is possible.

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I believe that it is technically feasible to riff anything if you’re funny and dedicated enough. Comedy, animation, a silent movie, French film with Italian subtitles, 80 minutes of aquarium footage, or The Day the Clown Cried… all riffable. But just because it’s not impossible, doesn’t make it a good or practical idea.

I mean, there’s nothing preventing you from running the Boston Marathon blindfolded with your pants on backwards and your shoelaces tied together, but most people would agree that running the marathon normally is tricky enough, there’s no reason to set yourself a huge handicap on top of that. Especially one that nobody asked you to take on in the first place and anybody watching you on TV at home is more likely to shake their heads at your poor decision making skills than applaud your utterly pointless risk-taking endeavor that was never going to produce better or more impressive results than if you’d just done things the normal way.

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What I don’t get about this movie is I could add a car on fire to that scene with less than an hour’s work. They had to have used the text on purpose.

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Exactly. It’s a movie that proudly proclaims, “SEE WHAT A TERRIBLE MOVIE I AM??” Not easy to make it funnier with that bullhorn.

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Too goofy? No. [gestures to the Russo-Finnish movies]

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If a film inched close to ‘too goofy’, I’d take it as necessary not to go for the low-hanging fruit and to work to get the riff to ring true, but not be the expected or easy. I’d think these are the sorts of projects that helped make the dozen viewings and being flat out sick of a film almost worth it after line assign and on shoot days.

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For me a movie that’s enjoyable - not just technically possible - to riff is one that falls short of its goals in some way. You can see the ambition but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. If a movie tries to be goofy but falls with a thud and is painful to watch, that’s riffable. Maybe there’s a nebulous aspect of “cringe” that’s the unifying force.

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One I don’t think could be riffed is Cats (2019). Because your brain is just using so much energy to keep you alive through it that there’s no power left to divert to the Riffing Engines. I don’t know, maybe Joel and Company could manage it. All I know is that when me and my friends watched it, we were too stunned to even speak.

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That would depend on whether or not the movie was self-aware about its repeated breaking of the Goofy Meter™. If the actors and crew are already in on the joke, riffing becomes superfluous.

When the Best Brains writers have talked about movies they’ve rejected, it’s usually been more about how the subject matter is too disturbing to make light of. (Such as the pre-Code movie they mentioned about child brides.) Or its technical limitations, such as inaudible sound or an ultra-muddy print.

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Unintentionally goofy is fine. As long as the director was ambitiously bad at their job, and the goofiness is due to them aiming high in their incompetence but falling short in their outcome, that’s the kind of goofiness that leads to prime riffing material… as long as there aren’t other factors related to language/violence/sexual content, general squikiness, bad print/sound, etc. that would also make them too difficult or uncomfortable to riff.

Movies that have comedic elements that miss their mark (i.e. all the Alan Hale Jr. scenes in Giant Spider Invasion, spazzy detective and Crayola hat in Catalina Caper, and whatever the hell was going on with the dating subplot in The Starfighters) are usually okay, as long as comedy was’t the sole purpose of the movie.

Something like Dirty Grandpa, Daddy Day Camp, or any given Carrot Top movie, that were ostensibly designed to be comedies to begin with, tend to create a “humor vacuum” around them which (though the process of humordynamics) not only render their own humor cold, dead, lifeless and inert, but also suck away any traces of humor that may get near them.

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I think it would probably take a few viewings, but I think Cats could be riffed. Imagine you and your friends watching it for the fifth time - I know, that sounds super painful. But you would all probably be able to riff it pretty well by then, because the shock of insanity would have . . . well, not worn off, but maybe lessened.

In general, I don’t think a movie can get too ridiculous to riff. It’s just a matter of getting used to the craziness.

There are a few things that I think make a movie, ridiculous or not, functionally unriffable. A movie can’t be too busy. There has to be space for the riffers to talk and for jokes to land with the viewer. Cats might fit this category, and I think musicals in general. I think Michael Bay movies tend to have this problem too, or something like Fury Road. Or think of Judd Apatow movies, which have scenes where the characters are just improving off each other in quick succession. There’s not enough space for anyone to riff, cause the talking never stops.

A movie can also be too “self-aware.” If a movie is consciously trying to wink to the audience, then trying to riff on it sort of sinks to its level, if I’m making sense. Like, if the movie itself is making fun of its own content (badly, it’s to be assumed), then riffing to make fun of the content is sort of playing their game. And it’s not a fun game. One could try and make fun of the filmmakers making fun of their own movie, but I think that ends up feeling pretty spiteful and not funny. I haven’t watched the Sharknado Rifftrax, but I don’t really want to to be honest. The best movies to riff tend to be played completely straight, no matter how stupid they get.

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I think a movie that is a spoof of other movies would be hard to riff. Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, A Dark and Stormy Night, and others, They are making fun of films, and making fun of the making fun would be hard, I think.

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I’m not a big fan of riffing on comedies. It’s not all that fun to see someone riff on something that is supposed to be funny to begin with, even if the comedy fails. I mean I enjoy Catalina Caper well enough, but it’s not really in my top episodes.

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