Sunday , April 21 2024
Trip the light fantastic with this bunch of space weirdos.

DVD Review: Tripping the Rift: The Movie

Whether one believes the restrictions are too tight or too lenient, it is undeniable that there are certain limits to what one can show on broadcast and basic cable television. Thus, it is not a surprise when television series that have a clearly more "adult" bent to them opt, when making a movie, to use copious amounts of profanity that would never make it into a traditional broadcast.

As an example, think South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.  The newly released Tripping The Rift: The Movie does not take that route.  It does have some profanity, but not as much as one would expect from the normally quite lewd series.

The film, as the series before it, takes place well in the future and follows the exploits of Chode (a purple alien blob) and his crew of misfits: Six (a sex slave robot, played this time around by Jenny McCarthy, but in the past by others, including Carmen Electra), Whip (a teenage slacker lizard), T'nuk (a cow-like, bug-eyed alien who is the pilot), Gus (a gay robot), and Bob (the ship itself).  The basic plot, such as it is, has the crew trying to escape a robo-clown sent back from the future to prevent Chode from impregnating the bad guy's (Darph Bobo) daughter, Babette.

Just as the series did, the movie spends much of its time spoofing other movies, shows, and pop culture references.  Thus, the robo-clown appears Terminator-style (naked and in a sphere), and speaks with a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger accent.  Other moments in the film, harkens back to the Universal monster movies of the 1930s, the Indiana Jones films, Desperate Housewives, and Alien vs. Predator.  Plus, as it's a space odyssey, there are Star Trek and Star Wars references thrown in as well (not to mention some more pornographic jokes).

The basic concept of the film seems to be to throw up as many jokes and references as possible over the course of the 75 minute run-time in hopes that a few find their mark.  Happily for fans of the series, enough of them do.  It's unquestionably not as smart or witty as some of the series' episodes that came before this, but there's enough there that pop-culture junkies will be amused.

Unfortunately, those not familiar with the television series will be lost for a significant portion of the film's 75 minutes.  There's little given in the way of explanation and backstory, and almost no character development.  Why exactly Darph Bobo's hatred of Chode is so deep-seated (before Chode sleeps with Bobo's daughter) is never explained in the film (although it had been discussed in past episodes of the series).

That is not the largest problem with the "all-new" film, though.  Watching Tripping the Rift: The Movie, one cannot escape the feeling that the producers simply took a bunch of episodes (or ideas for episodes) of the series and strung them together.  Yes, there is a thru-line (the Terminator story), but it is a weak one.

A check of the franchise's website confirms this episodes-changed-into-a-movie fear.  No fewer than three of the episodes of the show's third season seem to have made it (with some additions) into this "all-new" film. It may be that the third season, at least in the U.S., never aired, but questions to the publicist went unanswered and the website is unclear.

That aside, the animation is computer generated and wonderfully fun to look at. Stephen Root, who voices Chode, explains in the one extra (outside of the trailer) included on the DVD that it was the look of the series that initially attracted him to it.  The imagery may not have the depth of a Pixar feature, but it is still (usually) bright and well done.

Root, McCarthy, and the rest of the cast, to include Maurice LaMarche, John Melendez, Gayle Garfinkle, and Rick Jones, seem more than game to utter any insanity the writers put before them, and move the film along well.  Tripping the Rift: The Movie will most likely not enlarge the franchise's fan-base, but those familiar with the series will find enough there to leave them wanting more.  

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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