'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' (1975)/Directed by Jim Sharman/Grade: D+
With some cult classic movies, I have both enjoyed and understood their popularity. Such titles include The Room (2003) and The Wicker Man (2006). Others I just barely understand why they're popular, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). As a musical fan, I have never seen a movie that looked so gorgeous, yet which seemed so bent on hammering me with its song numbers and lack of logic that it would make me hate musicals. It didn't succeed, but it came close.
The premise involves newly engaged couple Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) and Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick), who get lost in a rainstorm and find themselves on the doorstep of Dr. Frank N Furter's (Tim Curry) estate. Once inside, the apprehensive lovebirds are sucked into a vortex of elaborately staged dancing, singing, and a bizarre experiment which leads to the creation of a man known as Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood).
That's about as far as I could surmise what the film was actually about. Rocky Horror quickly loses all sense of its plot and descends into a seemingly interminable stretch of music, one random occurrence after another, and no real character progression to speak of. What arc does Janet or Brad go through? Where does Rocky end up? How does Frank N' Furter's whole journey end up? Nothing seems to go anywhere narratively, which left me about as bored as I've ever been with a movie, merely admiring the sets designed by Brian Thomson.
Additionally, while I enjoyed the energy of the musical numbers at the start, I noticed two problems very quickly, that, combined with the nonexistent plot, killed the movie for me. One, is that there's way too many song sequences in breathless proximity to one another that the story isn't given room to breathe. Even on stage, this would feel exhausting. I found myself eternally grateful for the gaps in between musical numbers from better films, like La La Land (2016) and The Lion King (1994).
Two, because the songs occur so constantly, it becomes blatantly clear how they all sound the same. The instrumentals, the vocals. Even the lyrics, despite the different themes of each number, blur together because everything has the same rhythm. The only mildly memorable musical moment for me was 'Sweet Transvestite', which was entirely due to Tim Curry's exuberant energy and passion. Those qualities he exudes make him the movie's saving grace.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, put plainly, is not a very good movie. It truly doesn't let up on the music, lacks a coherent story, and simply has too monotonous of a rhythm to its songs as well. That I haven't given this film an F is purely a testament to Tim Curry's performance and the handsome production values. If you're a die-hard fan, more power to you. However, this is a party I won't return to anytime soon.
You can rent or buy The Rocky Horror Picture Show here: https://youtu.be/FQVIQrlL8KM