I love Rifftrax. And this is a truly outstanding Rifftrax movie because frankly the whole thing is quite ridiculous. Billy Ray Cyrus is playing some kind of tough guy who is out for revenge! Because the son of a local illegal arms dealer was also involved in his family dying something something past tragedy lots of explosions and sepia flashbacks. Yeah.
Anyway, his character Jack – I genuinely just had to stop to try to remember the character’s name although it’s in the title of the movie! – winds up in a backwater town where there is a helpless female and of course there is a love story. Jack is real tough until the storyline demands that he isn’t and then after a brief sponge bath interlude – if you watch the Rifftrax version you’ll understand what I mean, don’t worry – he gets to be real tough again.
Is he radical, though? Now that is the question.
 Except, it isn’t. The question is whether or not Kate, the main female role in this movie, is a helpless female or … something else. There’s a problem here. Kate is in an abusive relationship with a serial abuser at the beginning of the movie. He has told her that he will leave his wife for her (he obviously won’t) and considers her to be ‘his’, even after she asks him to leave and makes it clear the relationship is over. A little bit later in the movie, he confronts her in the parking lot, punches her repeatedly, and leaves her laying on the ground when he drives away. It is during this same timeline that she is ‘falling in love with’ the titular Jack.
This opens the tricky question of whether a person caught in such a violently abusive relationship is ‘helpless’ and the answer is much more nuanced than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. If a movie has a woman that requires saving from something, and her role does little or nothing to save herself, then she is by my tag definition a helpless female. If a movie has gone much further than that and placed the main female role in a position where she is unable to help herself due to the gravity of the situation she finds herself in, then is she still ‘helpless’? Yes, but for different reasons. The real point I’m making is that the movie requires the hero to save her from a bad situation and that this results in a love story.
Jack himself in this scenario is arguably just as traumatised by his past and fails to recognise that his neediness for Kate’s adoration is probably not going to help her recover from the abusive relationship she gets out of by helping Jack to kill her abuser. This, by the way, happens in a warehouse where Kate is suddenly adept in firearms, earning her a possibly undeserved redemption arc right at the last minute. [/edit]
Themes of domestic abuse aside (it’s a bit like Jim slapping his sister in Attack of the Super Monsters ) this is a real laugh out loud experience. Get the Rifftrax. Because they make it just so much better.