November 17, 2008
What Happened To
am not really all that good at getting out to see movies in the
theaters. It’s not only that I don’t like paying $15 for tickets and
$11.50 for a bucket of popcorn saturated with bright yellow motor oil.
I’ve just never been all that wild about the way my sneakers stick to
the concrete floor under the seats.
I just got around to renting the DVD and watching the latest Harrison
Ford movie, Indiana Jones And Something Or Other About Some
Kind Of Skull. Now I don’t normally write movie reviews, but I feel
that in this case I need to share my considered thoughts on this film,
especially for the benefit of any of you who have not yet plopped down
$3 to take it home and see it.
Don’t do it! This movie stank up my house worse than a goldfish under
the sofa cushion!
Just in case any of you didn’t understand that delicate simile, I will
explain: I did not care very much for the film.
From the opening scene with its obnoxiously computer-generated prairie
dog, past Cate Blanchett sporting the worst Russian accent in show
business history, through a jungle full of obnoxiously
computer-generated monkeys, and right up to the Indiana Jones Hat Gag
just before the closing credits, I sat and wondered if maybe Steven
Spielberg and George Lucas shouldn’t consider hanging it up and buying a
fishing charter business in the Bahamas. Even the John Williams music,
with that wonderful “Bam-pa-da-pa, bam-pa-da” Indiana Jones theme,
couldn’t save this thing.
And Harrison Ford couldn’t save it.
will admit that I have had a bit of a man-crush on Harrison Ford ever
since he blazed like a comet across my television screen in his role as
“Beach Patrol Cop” in that memorable 1968 episode of Mod Squad.
Years later, when he sat at the controls of the starship Millennium
Falcon wearing the same dopey look on his face that I get when I
can’t remember how to eject a CD from the car stereo and said, “I have a
bad feeling about this, Chewie,” I knew we were in the presence of true
motion picture greatness.
Harrison Ford was even pretty . . . well, Harrison Ford in this
latest movie. OK, his hair has quite a bit more gray in it, and his
voice has gotten kind of Jim-Beam-with-beer-chasers gravelly, and it’s
apparently getting a lot harder to make the stunt men look like a guy
who is 66 years old. But he still has the whip.
I’m not entirely sure why this movie was so bad. I loved the first three
Indiana Jones movies unconditionally, despite lines like, “Listen. Since
I've met you I've nearly been incinerated, drowned, shot at, and chopped
into fish bait. We're caught in the middle of something sinister here .
fact, I can watch and enjoy some incredibly silly movies. I’ve seen
Young Frankenstein so many times that I can recite most of the
Dr. Frankenstein: “Frau Blucher?”
And it was actually pretty nice to see Karen Allen back as Indy’s love
interest, reprising her Marion Ravenwood role from Raiders of the
Lost Ark. I enjoyed a rare moment in motion picture history in which
the leading lady does not look like the leading man’s granddaughter’s
The problem might be that Indy isn’t truly Indy any more. He used to be
a middle-aged guy who could throw a punch like most middle-aged guys
secretly believe they could if they really had to. He sort of stumbled
through his life without any sort of long-range plan – which is really
not all that unusual I guess, except most of us hardly ever have to whip
up a spur-of-the-moment escape from Nazi Germany in a Zeppelin.
But I think what we all liked best about Indy was that he was always
curious (and courageous) enough to grit his teeth, push that nasty old
mostly-rotted corpse out of the way, and stick his hand into the spider
Now we have a character on a motorcycle, who turns out to be Indy’s
long-lost son and who barely adds up to a parody of Rebel Without A
Cause, calling him “Gramps.” The main theme of the new movie seems
to be that Gramps can still throw that punch. Except it turns out that
every time Gramps took one in the chops, you could almost see the
Polident flying through the air. This time Indy just didn’t work.
when “Junior” (if you saw the flick, I’ll bet that you didn’t know, or
care, that the kid’s name was supposed to be Mutt Williams) went
Tarzan-swinging through the jungle while giant ants ate a bunch of the
bad guys, I found myself hoping he would fall and go the way of those
bad guys, just so we could get it over with.
well, I guess that’s why they make air freshener. At least my sneakers
didn’t stick to the floor.
Michael Ball. Distributed exclusively by North Star Writers Group.
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