Designed almost exclusively for the teenage to twenty-something male, Tripping the Rift: The Movie is a saga of filth, sex, and raunchiness that should satisfy most fans of the CGI-animated television series. For those with no introduction to the television series who are going in cold, the film version of the show might seem a little hollow.
“Think South Park in Space,” says TV Guide. If South Park were less witty, relevant, and well written, TV Guide might be on to something. As it is, Tripping the Rift is a meandering saga that never quite delivers. Jokes come off as awkward, strained, and even outdated at times. The main characters are bland.
Tripping the Rift takes place in space in a sort of Star Trek-type universe. There are things such as warp drive, “beaming up,” bad impressions of Captain Kirk, and other parodies of Star Trek material. Elements are also borrowed from other sources, like Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Terminator.
The characters come from a sort of Star Wars-meets-the-porn-industry archetype. Chode (Stephen Root) is the central character. He’s a big purple blob with three eyes, and is the captain of the smuggling ship Jupiter 42. Chode is selfish, obnoxious, and constantly aroused. Six (Jenny McCarthy) is a sexy cyborg (aren’t they all?) who serves as the ship’s sex slave and science officer. She somehow has sex with Chode in the movie, and essentially serves to titillate and entice with her CGI boobage.
The other characters are a bit more interesting, with the triple-breasted T’Nuk (Gayle Garfinkle), Chode’s nephew Whip (Rick Jones), a gay parody of C-3P0, Gus (Maurice LaMarche), and Spaceship Bob, the ship’s Hal 9000 (Jay Leno’s John Melendez).
Tripping the Rift expands on the television series by putting Chode and his crew in a seemingly routine mission in black and white (that’s how we know they’re in trouble) to protect a pissed-off princess. A time-traveling killer clown assassin has been dispatched to take out Chode, so he and his crew must dodge the clown assassin while heading from one backdrop to the next. After heading to suburbia, the crew meet a big-breasted Desperate Housewives parody and trouble continues until a booze-soaked birthday party allows it all to mercifully come to an end.
It’s not hard to spot the target audience here, especially when there are Alien Vs. Predator parodies in the film and most of the jokes are wildly sophomoric and ineffectual. The voice talents are good enough and some moments are legitimately funny, like the clown assassin, but overall, Tripping the Rift is just too flat too often to be overly entertaining.
The animation looks good at times and wildly silly at others. The extended black and white scenes at the beginning seemed pointless and lacked what could have been a strong introduction to those experiencing this universe for the first time. When the film did shift to colour, it got more compelling and there was more to see. Overall, though, those interested in Tripping the Rift will probably like the movie, and those that haven’t seen the television series probably won’t rush out to see it after the film.
The DVD has a Captain’s Log: The Making of Tripping the Rift: The Movie special feature that runs through a handful of the top voice actors, but doesn’t really detail much else. There is also a trailer for the movie.