Unless you’re living in a cave filled with Kali worshipers, you’ve probably seen the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. To say I was excited to catch my first glimpse of the new flick would be putting it mildly.
But then it hit me that a lot of kids who make up the precious 18-23 year-old demographic so many of the movies try to nab were toddlers the last time an Indy flick unspooled. I mean, my wife was only 6 when the third Indy film came out (and yet she’s a huge fan of the trilogy. She’s cool like that. She knows her good 80s flicks even though she was in diapers when they premiered; she was only 2 when Back to the Future was in theaters – man I love making myself feel old – but she’s still a fan).
It doesn’t seem like that long ago when that boulder first chased Indiana through the cave. But I guess I was 10 years old and I went to see it on a Saturday afternoon with my little sister, who would have been 5 at the time. Those were definitely different times when you could drop off a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old at the movies by themselves to watch the faces melt off of Nazis. We got home and couldn’t stop ranting about Raiders of the Lost Ark. My brother (who had opted to go to the swimming pool instead of the movies) knew he missed out.
Three years later when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom rolled around, I was an official Indiana Jones movie geek. Before it had even come to theaters, I already had the soundtrack (on vinyl) and had it memorized. I knew every trumpet swell, every smash of the timpani, and had the crescendos down pat. In fact, when I sang along with the opening song – a rendition of “Anything Goes” in Japanese – I remember a few of the people in the audience giving me the stink eye. I had the collectible behind-the-scenes book as well as the cheap novelization of the movie and I had begun to go to the library and photocopy magazine articles about Steven Spielberg. I couldn’t fully understand at 13 exactly what a director does but I knew his name and I knew he had a lot to do with it, and I wanted to have something to do with cool movies, too. I recognized his name from E.T. and that was when I knew whatever it was he did…I wanted to do it, too.
When Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade came out I was 18 and I knew everything you’d ever want to know about Spielberg. I studied his films and pored over every article I could get my hands on. And yet, Indy 3 disappointed me. I think this is the first time I’m saying this publicly.
The rest of my family, especially my dad, are such Indiana Jones fans, I couldn’t bring myself to confess that I didn’t love the third one as much as they did. And, if you know me, the reason for disliking it may seem odd. In the years since then, I’ve continued to be a fan of Spielberg but my tastes have veered to the comedic arts. I’m still interested in film but that is coupled with a love for stand-up comedy and all things Steve Martin, Dane Cook, and Will Ferrell.
And yet my complaint about Indy 3? It was too funny. Too goofy. Too much slapstick.
Sure, the first one had a few good laughs but for the most part, Indy was a serious down-to-business guy who got himself out of narrow scrapes and once in a while shot a guy instead of using his whip for a laugh. But all of a sudden he was running around with Sean Connery like 2 of the three stooges, complete with head bonks, slaps in the face, and pratfalls. Indiana Jones was never a comedy before… why were they trying to make it into one now?
And yet, even with this bitter taste in my mouth, I still remain a huge fan. I am trying to keep my expectations low and at the same time I’m really anxious to find out what happens next to our hero. The trailer that is online made me smile and even laugh and who knows, they may try to make Indiana funny again. I forgive them already if they do. I’m just looking forward to hanging out with my old buddy again.