“Cult/Perfect Body” is the craziest episode of Review yet. Now, this is different from it being the best or the funniest. It’s just the most brazenly nuts, and it is laudable in its dedication to being a bonkers half-hour of television. It does make you wonder just how far Review can go and retain any semblance of reality to it, though.
Last week, Forrest managed to keep his girlfriend Mrs. Greenfield despite the fact he burnt down his father’s house because he refused to stop pretending he was a little person. This is fortunate, because Lennon Parham is arguably the MVP of this episode. Forrest’s first review subject is about what it is like to be a cult leader. As always, Forrest handles it as blithely as possible. Other cult leaders, including Dr. Phil, are just guys to learn from. Hopefully he can learn from their mistakes, too, because the notion of rivers of blood certainly seems to disgust him.
Forrest, with Mrs. Greenfield at his side, start up a cult based on the premise of living a five star life. Then they do cult things. Everybody starts dressing like Forrest, which is as great as it sounds. Forrest treats being a cult leader almost like it’s having to take out the garbage; it’s an annoying hassle that has to be handled. Even when he gets some sexual favors from his female followers he doesn’t seem all that chipper about it. It doesn’t make Mrs. Greenfield very happy, though. Also, she remains Mrs. Greenfield through it all, even though she is no longer married to Mr. Greenfield, and even though Forrest is dating her.
Mrs. Greenfield decides the thing to do is to get some guns and steal an ATM to fund the space ark Forrest promised out of sheer need to promise something. She also gets a cool hat that gives her six stars and, well, six is greater than five, so she’s the new leader, and Forrest is out. Lennon Parham makes for a delightful cult leader, and it spills over into the second story, which is about getting the perfect body. Thom York wanted one, could Forrest McNeil get one?
Well, it depends. Do you think a terrible fake tan, freakish muscle implants, and a gigantic penis makes for a perfect body? What adds to the humor is that at no point does Forrest get his eyes fixed, so he still wears glasses. Also, he looks completely ludicrous, and eventually, after steroid abuse, he becomes some sort of orange hulk. It’s all funny as a sight gag, but it’s not all that funny beyond that.
Fortunately, things pick up at the end when Forrest hulks out on the cult, just as the cops his father called show up. This episode of Review ends with a violent, bloody shootout that sees cop and cult member alike shot dead, including Mrs. Greenfield, who also blows up Forrest’s dad’s timeshare with a grenade launcher. Yes, this is a half-hour of comedy that more or less ends with about 20 people being shot dead onscreen. It’s a bold choice, to be sure, and while it’s enjoyable, it also speaks to the limits of plausibility in this show. Forrest’s actions lose a little impact in a world as cartoonish as this one.
However, somehow Forrest is able to blame all this on his quest for a perfect body, leading him to giving it a half-star rating. It’s completely myopic and self-serving, and also quite funny. As previously stated, there have been funnier and better episodes of Review, even this season. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good episode. If you like this show, you’re going to like watching Forrest as a cult leader, or Forrest as a hulking steroid freak. It’s the kind of audience that will laugh at a cult being shot down. However, it’s the subtler, more human indignities that Forrest brings upon himself that remain funnier and more resonant. A cult springing to life and being brought to an end is funny. A man eating 30 pancakes in despair is better.
Three and a half stars.
Chris Morgan is not the author of THE book on Mystery Science Theater 3000, but he is the author of A book on Mystery Science Theater 3000. He’s also on Twitter.