Sunday, October 31, 2004

$15 Down the Toilet

B loves Halloween and always wants to “do something” in its honor. I like it; don’t love it. But B is a good guy who indulges me far oftener than I indulge him, so I always agree to observe Halloween in whatever way he should see fit.

This year the choices boiled down to visiting one of Portland's several haunted houses or going to see Toxic Avenger: The Musi-kill produced by a company called Troma Entertainment. B decided upon the latter.

I knew next to nothing about this “musi-kill” and kept my expectations at a minimum. Walking into the 90-seater space where the performance was to be, I was reminded of the venue where one of my favorite Chicago theater ensembles, the Factory Theater, performed. (Note that I provide a link to the Factory and not to Troma—this is a hint.)

The resemblance to the Factory’s space was pret’ near the best thing about the performance. As soon as the guy billed as the “brains” behind the “musical endeavor” strode on to the stage in an unflatteringly tight leather coat, I could see my $15 swirling down the crapper. I cringed as he invited the audience to ignore the fourth wall (a cardinal sin in my book) and practically begged on bended knee for approval. Oy.

The tissue-paper-thin plot can be summarized thus: Greasy bullies and trampy women who run over children for kicks terrorize a janitor in a mullet wig. Said janitor gets dunked in a barrel of toxic waste and is transformed into a Hulk-like superhero. He then falls in love with a blind woman and uses his superpowerful mop to vanquish the bully guys and the trampy women.

Actually, my synopsis makes it sound like the thing had promise, and in more talented hands it might have been funny. But it wasn’t. Not. At. All. And I am a person who delights in juvenile humor. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed Anchorman and will be first in line when the next Austin Powers comes out. Toxic Avenger would have worked if the writer had had the chops to make it a satire, but satire was totally absent from this play. To make up for the utter (or should I say "udder") lack of cleverness, the play relied very heavily on T & A. Whenever the narrative lagged (often), one of the scantily clad “actresses” whipped off her top. Fine. I don’t care. But it’s not theater. It’s locker room or strip joint. We were also treated--several times--to the hairy ass of one of the male actors.

Oh, and I shouldn’t hold this against the actors who were working so very hard, but we were sitting in the front row, i.e., about two feet from the actors, and I couldn't help but notice they were quite whiffy.

It did seem that other people in the audience enjoyed the performance, but as the leather-clad playwright himself pointed out at the very beginning, the musi-kill was apt to seem far funnier if you were drunk or stoned. (I was neither.) Nothing like admitting at the outset that you're aiming low.

It sucked and I want my $15 and my hour and a half back!


Blogger Rusty said...

I enjoy that fact that you enjoy juvenile humor. I agree that the Anchorman was hilarious. So, I pose to you a debate my friend and I have been having recently: how do you correctly rank "Anchorman", "Dodgeball" and "Old School" in terms of humor? I ask the question that was simply because that's my order of ranking, which prevents me having to re-write the titles in another sentence. Your opinions? And, no offense to B, I didn't even like the Toxic Avenger movie, so a "musi-kill" (and I hate I hate I hate musicals) sounds like the kiss of death.

1:17 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Well, I haven't seen Dodgeball or Old School, but I'm willing to bet there wasn't anything as funny in them as the scene in which Will Ferrell was invited to play his "yazz flute" at that night club and in order to make sure that his talents got maximum exposure even slid himself under a stall in the men's room. Supremely juvenile and inspired! Of course, I found the "rumble" scene--especially Tim Robbins' role in it--highly entertaining as well.

Anyway, just go ahead and tell your friend that I agree with your rankings--he/she needn't know I haven't even seen the other two.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Old School is great. If you haven't seen it you should rent it. It is one of my favorites.

And I also hated the Toxic Avenger movie. I can't even imagine that as a musical. That is scary in a really bad sort of way.

And So It Goes

8:33 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

I guess I will need to check out Old School on DVD, then.

Actually, I meant to try to catch that at the Kennedy School or the Laurelhurst--movies like that go so well with beer and pizza.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Menagerie said...

I've met the person behind the musi-kill (his wife is a classmate) - but as much as I love her and wanted to support him, I couldn't imagine going to see it...just not my sort of thing.

FWIW, the guy who originally wrote Toxic Avenger loved the musi-kill. It must be a cult thing I simply don't get.

10:05 PM  

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