The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again Review
By James Gisante
Edited By Carl Cottingham
Fox’s new take on The Rocky Horror Picture Show is more or less exactly what you’d expect from a television remake of a cult classic feature film. While this remake certainly does a lot right, there were more than a few mistakes made along the way. More so than any of the television musicals that have appeared in recent years, Rocky Horror is perhaps facing the biggest uphill battle in terms of trying to please its audience. The original 1975 film is still a staple of midnight screenings in theaters across the country, so the question has to be asked: why is this new take even necessary? Although The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again doesn’t quite answer that, it’s a fun time nonetheless.
Off the bat, this is far more cleaner and crisper compared to the original film. The wacky and odd feeling that is synonymous with Rocky Horror can never truly be matched, much less reconstructed in 2016, but that’s to be understood going into this special. The original film was a trailblazer and set the stage for many films after it, so it can’t be expected for this retelling to accomplish those goals. What we do get, however, are solid performances from a likable cast and a very well-executed and updated set design.
Unquestionably, the main focus going into this showing has been Laverne Cox and her portrayal of the iconic Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Surprising absolutely no one, Cox’s charisma and fierceness shine bright and bring the mad doctor to life in a very fun way. Despite the controversy that’s been brought up about a transgender actress playing a transvestite character, Rocky Horror is smart enough to push right past it. It’s never quite explained how a woman dressed as a woman can be classified as a transvestite, but Cox plays the role so well it’s easy to ignore the question.
The rest of the cast fills in well enough. Victoria Justice’s Janet Weiss is a particular highlight although, to be fair, Janet’s also the character with the most to do. Ryan McCartan and Staz Nair do what they can with the roles of Brad and the titular Rocky but, as with the original, there isn’t as much for them to do. Following suit are the doctor’s minions played by Christina Milian, Annaleigh Ashford and Reeve Carney, whose Riff Raff probably fairs the best of the bunch. While they all do a fine job with what they’re given, they’re mostly frolicking in the background as the mayhem ensues. Finally, Adam Lambert may not exactly embody Eddie the way Meatloaf famously did decades ago, he clearly had fun with his performance. Just as random an appearance here as it was in the original, Eddie comes and goes in much the same way, causing a ruckus and creating one of the more memorable musical numbers in the show.
The musical performances are handled well enough throughout the show, but they fail to capture the same magic they did when they were sung back in the seventies. They could have all been better served with a little more grit but there were some standouts, The Time Warp and Sweet Transvestite being exceptionally fun and worthy renditions that will be sure to please long time fans.
Overall, you can argue this new version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show probably wasn’t all that necessary but that doesn’t diminish its value. It can’t really compete with the original, but it’s fun in its own right and fans of Laverne Cox should be sure to tune in and see her own the screen. If you’re still feeling like a stickler and need one final reason to tune in, Tim Curry is a delight and seeing him onscreen is worth the watch alone. He was a true surprise and having him as the story’s narrator was as satisfying as anyone could hope for.