It’s always hard remaking a classic, even a crazy, colorful, transvestite-filled classic like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. On Thursday, Oct. 20, FOX released a remake of the iconic show entitled The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the story of Brad Majors and his fiancee Janet Weiss who find themselves at the eerie castle of Dr. Frank N. Furter when they get a flat tire on a journey to see an old friend. At the castle, they meet a slew of crazy characters who encourage them to lose their innocence and put them through a whirlwind of sexual experiences and mind games.
This cult classic became an anthem for thespians, lesbians and gays alike, all drawn to the sex-positive celebration of all forms of self-expression. The iconic music, acting and message of the original movie are hard to live up to.
Director Kenny Ortega and his team all had large shoes to fill. It ended up looking like a child adorably stumbling around in his father’s work boots. The remake tripped, fell and got back up, all with a charmingly goofy smile on its face.
From the beginning of the show, Victoria Justice, who played Janet, strove to sing and act exactly like Susan Sarandon’s original version. Her high and piercing vocals emulated Sarandon’s almost exactly, but it was overshadowed by her over-acting, which was pervasive throughout the entire show.
The same goes for Ryan McCartan, the actor who played Brad in the remake. He tried extremely hard to imitate Barry Bostwick’s original version of the straight-laced Brad Majors but failed to balance his character. In his efforts to emulate the comedic blandness of Majors, he passed into gross exaggeration that took away from the novelty and appeal of the character.
Laverne Cox, on the other hand, did an absolutely amazing job of balancing Tim Curry’s iconic portrayal of Dr. Frank N. Furter with her own spin on the character. There were moments in the remake where if you looked away, you could not tell if it was Cox or Curry portraying Frank N. Furter. She did an amazing job of copying Curry’s voice, speaking the iconic lines exactly as he did in the original version.
The other supporting characters such as Riff Raff, Magenta, Rocky, Eddie and Columbia, all had good and bad moments, but often fell flat when they began to cross from comedically-crazy acting to plain over exaggeration.
The set and costume design were both interesting interpretations of the original movie. They seemed to leave behind the eeriness of the original and bring a new view of the scenes. The set was new and more detailed than the original and in many ways translated the different scenes better, but were lacking the certain charm of the original.
The main problem with the FOX version of Rocky Horror was the over-exaggeration. Rather than take the story as it was and act it with the original in mind, it strove to be exactly like it. This meant coaching the actors to scream, speak and sing in exactly the same ways as the original. In trying to emulate the campy, 1975 charm of the original film, they missed it and went into the realm of a poor remake. This made it impossible to watch the movie without comparing it to the original.
Regardless of this, the remake was charming on its own if it wasn’t being compared to the original. When you see the remake as a stand-alone feature, you’re able to appreciate it for the goofy, adorable movie that it was.
No matter the version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show will always be an anthem for those who go against the grain of society and march to their own drum. The movie inspires people to express themselves as they please, love who they please and be as authentic as possible. The original did this for past generations, and hopefully the remake will do this for the current generation.
Whichever version you watch, live by the words of Dr. Frank N. Furter, “Don’t dream it. Be it.”
Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Facebook page.
Monica Pizzo is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.