If you grew up in the 80s, there’s a good chance you had a kid in school who tried to convince you Mac and Me was a good movie. They may have even tried to persuade you it’s better than E.T. Let’s be clear—this person was not your friend. Clearly, they hated you, art, and all that is decent. There’s also a good chance they were an employee of the McDonald’s corporation.
For the second season of the rebooted Mystery Science Theater 3000, they kick off with the cinematic misfire Mac and Me. This is probably one of the most high-profile films they’ve ever used, outside of maybe This Island Earth in the film version of the series. With high profile comes familiarity, and that’s part of the problem with this episode. Like all the movies they mock, the producers have edited Mac and Me down. That made more sense when the show aired on cable, but now on Netflix there’s just not the same time constraints. This is particularly noticeable in the jumpy storytelling and particularly the McDonald’s dance number which even people who haven’t seen the full film are familiar with from YouTube. Cutting it seems strange and highlights another issue with riffing on some movies.
Sometimes the best way to mock a bad film is to simply give it the rope to hang itself, which makes MST3K’s edits all the more baffling. The McDonald’s scene has become classic Internet fodder over the years. It’s truly one of the most bizarre scenes of 1980s films, and that’s saying a lot. What they do show here is mostly punctuated with forced jokes. Classic MST3K worked well when it felt like you were in the same room watching the movies with Joel, Mike, Crow, and Tom for the first time. Sometimes the funniest moments were the crew simply being dumbfounded right along with you. While later episodes were scripted, they still carried this improv flair with them. The new series? Not so much, sadly.