I was truly excited to see the revamp of The Rocky Horror Picture Show on FOX last night. I set my DVR, put my kids to bed early, and wedged myself comfortably into the corner of my couch.
As the major networks have recently created with The Sound of Music and Grease, I was truly hoping for a refreshing escape, new perspective, and, perhaps, some new music for my iPod.
As the show opened, I braced myself for whatever feelings I might experience. Problem was, right out of the gate, Brad (Ryan McCarton) wasn’t terribly Brad-ly, and Dr. Frank-n-Furter (Laverne Cox) was clearly more of a Francesca.
By moment fifteen, I had gotten up to make myself a chocolate chai, which should tell you a lot. Though the movie, for me, started off rocky, I still attempted to engage my willing suspension of disbelief.
In no uncertain terms, Cox’s portrayal of Furter disquieted me. I felt it would have behooved all of us for Cox to find her own voice in the story, instead of emulating the vocal style Curry adapted for the role. With the unprecedented opportunity of having a trans woman as Furter, she could have reinvented the role completely. And she also didn’t disturb me the way Tim Curry did, which is one of the key elements of the Rocky Horror experience. I was actually looking forward to that.
Simply put, Cox was too pretty to play Furter. I was truthfully more enamored by her smoky eye than her badass entrance. Though there’s no denying Cox’s fierceness, I felt another actor may have been a better fit.
Victoria Justice, of Nickelodeon fame, who played Janet Weiss, never stepped fully into the underwear of the original Janet (Susan Sarandon). I also felt the music was lackluster, as New Yorker columnist Sarah Larson also noted earlier today. From my end, there appeared to be a lack of commitment on the part of the actors to their roles (i.e., Rocky wasn’t born oblivious enough, Dr. Scott wasn’t eccentric enough), and an absence of chemistry that may have otherwise united this production.
That knowing the original cast had for the story, the music, and that deliciously raunchy, campy vibe, was only very faintly present in the 2016 rework. It’s almost as if the cast were handed trenchcoats and fake mustaches on one side of the stage and asked to “act shady” until they reached the other side. There was a lack of authenticity, of conviction, that I yearned for so badly.
I found myself lacking empathy for the characters, and for the entire show. The final scene, which should have screamed hedonism, merely whimpered, sopping wet, ‘Save me!’
Do I regret having seen it? No. Did it entertain me? Sure.
Would I watch it again?
Frankly, I’d prefer the original.
Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie/FOX