Just like the cable TV series that spawned it, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie is cheap, silly fun, a barrage of one-liners aimed at a risible old picture by one human and two robots who constitute an onscreen audience.
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was born in Minneapolis in 1988, ran for 22 shows there, and the following year was picked up by HBO’s Comedy Channel, which later merged with Viacom’s Ha! into Comedy Central. The now-canceled series’ staple has always been bad, low-budget 1950s sci-fi epics, but for the group’s first feature, the creators actually picked a moderately revered and amply budgeted one, Universal’s 1955 release This Island Earth.
The Mystery Science framework remains the same, with mad scientist Dr Clayton Forrester (longtime cast member and writer Trace Beaulieu) subjecting space traveler Mike Nelson (writer Michael J. Nelson) and his robot pals, the bulb-headed Tom Servo (writer Kevin Murphy) and the bird-like Crow T. Robot (Beaulieu) to an awful movie in an attempt to dominate them.
The threesome are constantly on view in silhouette along the bottom of the screen, needling it mercilessly throughout. Humor ranges from lots of mild gay innuendo about the male characters’ ‘real’ relationship to comments on the cheesy special effects and even inside industry jokes.