Saturday, July 4, 2015

Rifftrax's New Dynamic Duo

Rifftrax is more than just three guys who used to mock bad movies on cable TV.
It's also two women who also appeared on that bad movie show.

Mary Jo Pehl, best known as Pearl on MST3K,  recently returned from her time on Cinematic Titanic to riff cheesy short films for Rifftrax with her new partner Bridget Jones, aka Nuveena and Lisa Leob on the show and also Mrs. Rifftrax (namely Mike Nelson's wife). They have worked before as Minnesota Amazons in "Hercules", and Pearl squaring off with a Roman empress in "Horror of Party Beach."

They've tackled two short subjects that look at America's obsession with the suburbs and consumerism. "Life In the Suburbs" was a 19 minute commercial for Redbook, which appealed to "young adults" starting a family and buying stuff. It looks really weird, with kids wandering through a dinner party, and making the suburbs look like a colorful paradise, or, as Bridget says, "where it's prom every day". It also includes articles to help young adults, like teaching kids how to lose (Mary Jo suspects the Vikings wrote that). Here's a clip:

They seem to be confused yet amused at what the film is trying to explain, but it's a nice time capsule of what family life used to be.

The other short, "A Word To The Wives", is much better. Its message is clear: con your husband into getting a new home, or at least a new kitchen, with the help of a glamorous yet devious neighbor. It's made by the Women's Home Companion, which Mary Jo hopes is George Clooney (that's a callback to one of the movie specials MST3K used to do for SyFy).

As you can see, the hubby and the terrible kitchen cabinets are making the devious neighbor's case, along with his habit of slowly bringing his garbage bag to the curb before the bag collapses. It's not long before Mary Jo and Bridget get annoyed by the overly glamorous housewife and her dream kitchen, The short was also riffed by Josh Way, and his style is a bit more dark with snide comments about Cameron Diaz and Rob Schneider.

Yes, the hubby is Darrin McGavin (not the "Wife Stalker", as Bridget claims), and he has a temper tantrum that would be recreated in A Christmas Story more than 30 years later. Miss Sneaky Housewife is played by Marsha Hunt, who was among many actors who were blacklisted in the '50s due to Communist paranoia. The short is directed by Norman Lloyd, familiar to fans of St. Elsewhere and Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur...among many other things. In fact, if you're planning to see Trainwreck this month, you may spot him near Amy Schumer.

So far, Mary Jo and Bridget are meshing pretty well in their riffing of shorts looking the corporate version of 1950's America. If they have a flaw, it's that they keep riffing well after the film ends, That can be fixed, of course. maybe they can tackle a full-length feature eventually, like a really cheesy rom-com. Imagine them tackling one of those all-star romances Garry Marshall makes every year or so, or anything on the Hallmark Channel.

Anyway, you can get "A Word To The Wives" and "Life in the Suburbs" at rifftrax,com/

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