Erik Frandson

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Don't Ask Don't Tell Review


OK
It's very, very broad, but then Woody Allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily? was broad, too. The latter title comes to mind because the concept is the same: Comic writers take an existing movie - something bad, and in the public domain - and dub new dialogue onto it. In the case of the new film Don't Ask Don't Tell, the source material is the 1954 B-thriller Killers from Space; in that film, a scientist (Peter Graves) is reanimated by aliens following his death in a plane crash in order that he can aid them in their plans to conquer Earth. Don't Ask Don't Tell uses the same material, mostly, to bring the conflict up-to-date: Graves, following the same crash, is forced by aliens to undergo a procedure that swaps out his sexual orientation. The aliens' goal this time isn't so much to conquer Earth as to turn it more fabulous, if you see what I mean.

I wrote What's Up, Tiger Lily? above, but was it Mystery Science Theater I really wanted? The presence of bobble-eyed aliens in the (apparently incredibly bad) original footage forces the comparison. Did the first director really use ping pong balls for eyes, as the new director (Doug Miles) suggests? The jokes here connect with less frequency than Allen's did, and the humor runs the gamut from pretty good to dinner theater, with the occasional obscure reference thrown in, just as it was MST. (It seemed to me that Hannah Arendt, author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, was mentioned any time I tuned in to MST; in Don't Ask Don't Tell, James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room is brought into the fray, and although I wish to be corrected if I'm wrong, I don't believe that the title is one that comes up every day.)

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