Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Return (S01E02) “Cry Wilderness”

The second episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Return continues the quippy fun from the first episode while also improving on the skits outside the movie riffing. Strange fantasy film, Cry Wilderness, about a boy who talks to Bigfoot (Yes, you read that right), is suitably bad. But the boys actually shine just a little bit better in the imperfect but fun skits outside the theater.

“Watching This Movie Is Cinematic Puberty. Nothing Makes Sense and It Never Goes The Way You’d Expect.”

Jordan (Jordan Ray), Crow (Hampton Yount) and Tom (Baron Vaughn) have a field day with Cry Wilderness, a badly dubbed, nonsensical movie based around a mystical talking Bigfoot. It implores a boy named Paul to save his father, who is possibly the worst forest ranger ever. It is as weird as it sounds, rarely making sense and featuring some of the best overacting ever put on screen.

Much of the humor comes from the main character’s tendency to laugh hysterically at the most inappropriate times. Dangerous animals in the forest? Hilarious! There are raccoons trashing the kitchen? Knee slapping fun times!

What the Hell is so damn funny? source: Netflix

Paul is another source of scorn as the the guys get increasingly irritated with his antics. Advocating a boy’s murder at his father’s hand should not be this hilarious, but our heroes manage to do so. Ah, filicide, you comedic gem.

There are quite a few choice quips and moments, but Cry Wilderness does not provide quite as many belly laughs as Reptiicus. It is certainly a giggle fest both with and without the guys, but it does not hit the funny bone as squarely as you would like. Jonah and the bots are great, but it does feel like there are a couple of different opportunities left on the floor.

A Trio Of Old Favorites Return

source: Netflix

The material outside of the experiment is a vast improvement over the last episode. In some ways, it is actually better than what happens in the theater. Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt have some fun material, Jonah and the bots create a great skit once again, and Pearl Forrester (Mary Jo Pehl), Professor Bobo (Kevin Murphy) and “Brain Guy” (Bill Corbett) return! Okay, it is a simple cameo, but fans of the original show will love seeing them.

Felicia Day is great in this family reunion, a comedic neediness coming out of her normally evil character. It is oddly sweet, but does not take away from the character. Even mad scientists seek approval from their loved ones.

Seeing Pearl Forrester’s trademark rage is great, but Professor Bobo pretty much steals the scene with the character’s trademark adorable idiocy. His virtual delousing of Max is weird…and hilarious. The bit is the show at its quirky best, though newcomers might be bewildered.

source: Netflix

The rest of Day’s work is pretty solid. The opening Carvel ice cream cake bit is funny, but goes on for a little too long. And what is with the weird “slime” transitions? Day has an expressive face and her best moments occur when she is able to utilize it. Near the end of the episode, the look she gives an easily fooled Max is hilariously perfect. The dynamic between Kinga and Max is developing really well.

Speaking of Oswalt, his Max is given a lot more to do in this episode and most of it is very good. In that scene where he is fooled by Jonah and company, his naiveté is adorably funny. His constant need for approval, whether it be from Professor Bobo validating his evil sidekick status or simply Crow calling him “The Son of TV’s Frank,” makes him a little sympathetic.

Jonah and the bots have some fun outside of the theater as well, skewering Cry Wilderness even more. The weird diagram trying to explain the plot of the movie draws a few chuckles, but the diagram itself begins to make little sense itself as the bit goes on. That seems to be a pattern with some of the skits on the show…the skits seem to go on a little too long.

But the reenactment of the pet raccoon scene is hilarious. Jonah, playing the park ranger dad from the movie, alternates from jolly laughing to angry shouts for Paul as the bots/raccoons wreck the place. It strikes a perfect balance of length, ridiculousness and fun.

Keep It Going on Moon 13

“Cry Wilderness” does not have the belly laughs of the first episode, but it is consistently funny throughout. If this is a “step back,” I will gladly take that. That the outside skits are improving is another great sign that the reboot is in good hands.

Kinga, keep those B-movies coming!

SCORE: 9 OUT OF 10

Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Return is currently streaming on Netflix

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