Jedi Junkies – Film Review
TITLE: Jedi Junkies
DIRECTOR: Mark Edlitz
WITH SPECIAL APPEARANCES BY: Olivia Munn, Eduardo Sanchez, Ray Park, Peter Mayhew, Jeremy Bulloch
RUN TIME: 73 min
PRICE: $9.99 (iTunes/Amazon.com)
RELEASED: May 20
About 15 minutes into this movie, I realized it has the perfect title. Jedi Junkies. Quick, playful, to the point, and a dead on description of what you’ll be seeing.
A fan-made Star Wars documentary four years in the making, Junkies tears the lid off one of the most rabid pop culture fandoms in America, and gives viewers an eyeful. From die-hard collectors, to cosplayers, to other fan film crews, to those lovable ladies in their slave Leia costumes, the film leaves few (if any) stones untouched.
The movie has a rather basic approach, which is understandable for a fan-made production. There is no narrator, and more than half the film has no musical backdrop. Thus, the formula for Junkies seems to be: “Screw the bells and whistles, it’s all about the presentation.”
Thankfully that presentation is good, not only in terms of subject matter, but with the transition from subject to subject. With no one to say things like, “Okay, now we’re talking about fan films,” etc., the movie has to rely solely on things like establishing shots. In that sense, the film’s flow is very impressive, and as good as most documentaries you’ll see.
One thing that impressed me about this film is that it treats die-hard Star Wars fans, especially the big toy collectors, with dignity and respect, as opposed to going solely for the “freak show” effect. Let’s face it, when you’re talking to a Star Wars tribute band, or a couple that sleeps on an air mattress because their collectibles take up so much of their home, that would have been an easy route to take. But because the film was made by Star Wars fans, that prejudice isn’t there. As a result, we get a very frank look at the lives and habits of collectors, and even input from psychologists (who some of these fans will laughably admit to needing) on why fanboys and collectors do the things they do. The psychoanalysis isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s a nice touch.
Certain fans even offer surprisingly profound little insights/nuggest of wisdom:
- “Once you build a life size Milennium Falcon, you can take on anything in life. It doesn’t matter what life throws at you, you’ve got it licked.”
- “When they’re good, the Star Wars movies are very fun, and you’re invited to have fun with it. When they’re not as good as we would have hoped, then you make fun out of it. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what pop culture is all about.”
- “[Being a Star Wars fan is] no different than someone liking a sports team, wearing a sports jersey and pretending to be Michael Jordan, or somebody spending all their money on their car to hook it up. It’s just whatever you love and enjoy in life.”
The film also spends a decent amount of time with Olivia Munn of Attack of the Show!, and Eduardo Sanchez, director of The Blair Witch Project. Munn gives her insight into the Star Wars fandom, which offers a little slice of something different throughout the film. Sanchez, meanwhile, lets the crew into his home to look at his vast Star Wars collection. Did you know they made a toothbrush holder shaped like a snow speeder from The Empire Strikes Back? Me either, but Sanchez did…
We also get a some brief interviews at with Peter Mayhew (the man in the Chewbacca suit), Jeremy Bulloch (ditto for Boba Fett), and Ray Park (Darth Maul) at conventions. They don’t contribute to the film in any major way, but their presence gives it a credibility it wouldn’t have otherwise. There’s also a charming instance where someone asks Park who would win a fight between Darth Maul and Darth Vader.
Obviously, the bigger Star Wars fanboy (or fangirl) you are, the more you’ll be into this film. Odds are you’ll know a few more of the interview subjects too. But it’s not a necessity.
The film does drag a bit in certain areas. After awhile you get a bit tired of hearing from collectors. But for the most part, the movie spreads its content out well to keep things fresh. For instance, toward the beginning we spend time with New York Jedi, a team of lightsaber fight choreographers. Then toward the end, we meet those lovely slave Leia cosplayers. Thus, when the film does drag, it tends to snap back to attention.
What Jedi Junkies does best is illustrate just how deeply Star Wars has permeated our culture. For a film to demonstrate the fact that so many people, from so many different walks of life, can care so passionately about something, and act on that passion in such diverse ways is a great accomplishment. Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, you’ve got to appreciate that.
The film also illustrates that George Lucas retaining the merchandising rights for Star Wars was a decision that, in terms of intelligence, sits right up there with the invention of the wheel. But I’m hoping the former will resonate more with people.
All photos courtesy of Mark Edlitz.