If you were a kid, or had kids, during a certain era, you were aware of Showbiz Pizzatime Theater. Coming to be in the era of Chuck E. Cheese (and eventually merging with). Showbiz had a similar business model: sell pizza, have video games, and have the kids be entertained by an animatronic animal band while the family eats. While Chuck E. had “Munch’s Make-Belive Band,” Showbiz Pizzatime Theater had “The Rockafire Explosion.” It’s this merry band of robots that was the subject of tonight’s Friday movie, THE ROCK-AFIRE EXPLOSION (2008).
The film tells a couple parallel stories. The first is of superfan Chris Thrash who had such wonderful memories of Showbiz and Rock-afire that, despite a modest income, set out to purchase and recreate the Rock-afire Explosion band in his basement. The second is that of inventor Aaron Fechter who stumbled into his role as architect of the robot animal band. Both men found true love because of their Showbiz Pizzatime Theater experiences–Thrash while working as a DJ at a skating rink for extra cash for pieces, Fetcher via a barely legal fan. We also hear the rise and fall of the pizza chain itself, from its heyday in the early days of videogames, to today where as one person put it “kids just don’t relate to robot animals anymore.”
This movie could be seen as an allegory of holding onto the past as, for better or worse, time marches on. In the case of Thrash, he seems to have fared well in his dedication to nostalgia. Fechter doesn’t seem to come out so well. He’s the last man standing in his robotics studio, half assembled reminders of his day in the sun staring with empty eyes and reminding him of better times.
If you’re someone who’s creeped out by robot skeletons, be forewarned, there is plenty of nightmare fodder involved, including excerpts on how to properly disassemble your robots for their final time.
Question of the night–where was your favorite place to visit as a child?