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May 23-29, 2007

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Riffin' On It

MST3K crash land at the Rafael for an evening of improvised insults

By Jeff Latta

Making fun of movies is pretty easy. But making fun of movies well is another matter entirely, because for every well-placed one-liner that breaks the tedium of a truly terrible movie, there are 10 boorish yahoos who can only muster a pathetic "This movie sucks!" for the benefit of the mostly empty movie theater. It would appear that some things are best left to the experts.

Snarky commentary doesn't get much more expert than that delivered by Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy of the Emmy-nominated, Peabody Award-winning television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K). The trio wrote, directed and performed some 200 episodes, stretching back to when most of today's would-be hecklers were barely old enough to hurl well-timed quips at Keanu Reeves in Point Break. Now that the show is over, the three have been involved in various projects, but they still find time for the occasional RiffTrax reunion.

Returning to the Smith Rafael Film Center after their January appearance as part of the annual SF Sketchfest, the trio will once again harass a poor, misunderstood work of terrible cinema live for the benefit of a delighted paying audience. The film, alas, won't be announced in advance, but January's victim was the 2003 Ben Affleck epic Daredevil. It seems the gang has changed the format from their long-running TV series, now picking a new-ish film rather than some random old release created by people who wasted only thousands of dollars in celluloid instead of millions.

Tickets are a steal at 25 bucks a pop--and here I've been making fun of movies in my own house for years without ever charging anybody anything. The evening concludes with a postfilm discussion with Nelson, Corbett and Murphy. No word on who will be providing sassy observations over the dialogue for that portion of the program.

RiffTrax Live! is co-presented by the SF Sketchfest at the Rafael on Sunday, May 27, at 7:30pm. 1118 Fourth St., San Rafael. 415.454.1222.

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