Science fiction and geeks just seem to go together, kind of like the whole "chicken and the egg" argument, except with more protractors. Thanks to endless games of Magic: The Gathering and that most demonic of all RPG experiences, Dungeons and Dragons, fantasy has also found itself buried deep inside the dorks wedgie-ready waistband. Peter Jackson's perfect Lord of the Rings trilogy aside, the movies can't make up their mind about the genres. All sci-fi is either rendered from the future shock remnants of the replicants in Blade Runner, the sloppy space opera antics of George Lucas's Star Wars saga, or a wire-fu filled trip into virtual reality ala The Matrix. Truth be told, what the stalled cinematic category needs now is a good infusion of nerd – not in the audience, but behind the camera. Leave it to Troma to grant our wish. They offer up the first certified classic of feeb filmmaking. Rock and Roll Space Patrol: Action is Go is a humungous slice of speculative spectacle. And it's loaded with wall to wall 'tard.
The Planetary Outposts in Space Sector 219A have one by one fallen prey to a baffling infection. Inhabitants have given up their scientific and knowledge gathering initiatives and have instead resorted to mindless rampant consumerism & corporatised servitude culminating in the terrible and mega-ultra-destructive "Mighters March". Super Silver Base Alpha has sent their top space agent, Bronco Cedar, to investigate the latest outbreak on Outpost 11. Now he's gone missing, so as a last resort they've sent Buck Fiesta, their B-list agent with an itchy trigger finger and a chronic case of sarcasim, to sort things out. Along the way he'll enlist help from Zen master teleporter, The Red Arrow, obtain vital information from Agent Unknown, and confront an army of Temporal Ninjas led by the sassy evil mastermind of icebox fusion, Dr. Spider Jones. It will take 2 times the action, 2 times the special effects, and 2 times the rock `n' roll to win the day.
Here's another way of putting it:
A bunch of community college students get together and decide to make an epic space saga about evil scientists, robotic martial artists, interstellar heroes and beings with special powers. Unfortunately, they only had a budget big enough to make a movie of them talking to one another. So they did.
As a matter of fact, everything about RNRSP:AIG! (every good sci-fi fantasy film deserves the LOTR/POTA/AOTC treatment) is DIY and duct tape, from the Amiga level CGI to the use of a refrigerator as the storage compartment for Jones' experiments in "ice box fusion" (which makes sense, come to think of it). With a cast consisting of a long haired zen headbanger, a portly Firefly fan, and some bearded freak with Charles Grodin's demeanor and line delivery, RNRSP:AIG! is a lot like watching the Three Metaphysical Stooges spoofing Star Trek. As our glorified glass pipe fan, Mike Oettle is amazing as the Red Arrow. Looking like he should be sitting in with Lynrd Skynrd, not saving the known universe, Oettle uses his dense dialogue loaded with sci-fi psychobabble as a kind of comic coat of arms. This senseless sensei is part teacher, part party animal and all Clariol Herbal Essence (gotta love the long flowing locks, dude). As Buck Fiesta, Alex Warren is cheese doodles and portly hit points personified. He's the perfect poster boy for any A/V club. With his toy laser pistol and his Fisher Price voice recorder "telecommunicator", this husky hero is just as content saving the universe as he is shooting cows with his Buick Century car "canon". Add in Idan Flasterstein's nebbish as nogoodnik, the could-be-Cat Stevens Dr. Jones and you've got a triumvirate to the tacky, a celebration of the athletically addled and socially dateless.
Realizing that his actors are top notch in the area of self-delusion, Bultas then gives them reams of ridiculous dialogue to recite, monologues loaded with ludicrous science speak and faux futuristic falderal. During the movie's opening moments, it is up to Warren to sell us on all the outer space/outpost jazz, and his delightfully demented diatribe, filled with arcane names and nonsensical statistics is simply amazing. Even as we see Missouri passing by his sedan windows, we actually start to believe his BS…if only just a little. The same thing happens when Dr. Spider Jones creates his temporal ninjas. Conceived out of Play Doh and baked in a kitchen oven, these bowling ball mask wearing warriors are all named after their specific super power ("Mule Kick") or designer garb ("Purple Chriple", "Green Fling"). While this all may sound silly – and frankly, it's goofier than a grade schooler strung out on raw rock candy – RNRSP:AIG! has something that other so-called sci-fi epics fail to offer, and that's absolute faith in its material. Someone once said that successful speculative fiction must be based in real rules and limits. Then as long as you follow the facets with 100% belief in their existence, even the most outrageous narrative will hold up under serious scrutiny.
Now, it may be hard to believe that a stoner, a stock boy and the president of the Math Olympians could construct realistic futurism. But Bultas creates a complete and whole reality, addressing every possible flaw and filling in all but the most glaring gaps. In addition, everyone here plays it completely straight. They have full conviction in their cause and treat the mundane terrain like a well-crafted construct by the most talented F/X technicians. Sure, it's all a big retarded ruse, but it works. We buy into their genuineness and eventually 'play pretend' right along. There are some nice touches here – the bluescreen work with several "clone" versions of Dr. Jones, and the light beam battles between laser guns, ninjas and car cannons look almost professional. The humor is never forced or frivolous, though the movie obviously gets off on the campy, kitschy nature of its narrative. While it can't deliver the endless eye candy we've come to expect from the genre, Rock and Roll Space Patrol: Action is Go! can sure bring the inspiration and imagination. Frankly, had the film been able to afford the scope and grandeur the script describes, we'd probably find it all as unsettling as The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Instead, Bultas and his crackerjack team have too much invested in the sci-fi cinematic catalog to undermine it with stupidity. This is an incredibly smart and satiric film. It just looks like it was made by a bunch of losers.
But that's not all. Troma also tosses in the surreal short Hick Trek 2: The Next Aggravation. More or less a hillbilly take off on a certain sci-fi classic, the plot revolves around the neverending battle between the rednecks of the Starship Bovine and a race of shape shifting dogs. Oddly enough, writer/co-director Tony Trombo avoids the obvious buck toothed clichés of the Confederacy and, instead, stays centered in the trailer trash ideal of the inbred. Most of the jokes hit their mark, and the homemade special effects are wonderfully bad. When you consider that you already have a full length film, another substantive mock-documentary, and a trio of commentaries , this is just the sweet, sweet icing on the supplemental strudel. Add in the typical Troma merchandising and trailers, and this is one of the best DVDs the company has released.