Last week’s release of the Star Wars saga on Blu-Ray has reignited the debate over creator George Lucas’s ongoing revisions to his most treasured series of films. You can almost smell the steam rising from the ears of nerds the world ‘round as they chagrin blinking Ewoks and computer generated rocks. Yet you don’t have to be a dried up humorless Wampa jockey to feel hate in your heart for Marin County’s Billion Dollar Beard. Here are eight reasons to scorn George Lucas that have nothing to do with that galaxy far, far away.
1. Suppressing The Theatrical Version Of THX-1138
Nerds make such a flap about George fiddling with his Star Wars films and leaving the original versions to rot on the side of some unseen metaphorical highway, but the director’s done the same thing to his 1971 debut feature, THX-1138. The futuristic thriller starring Robert Duvall and Donald Pleasance received an extensive CGI makeover for its 2004 DVD release. Since then, that redux has been the only version available, making audiences believe Lucas had access to breathtaking computer wizardry in a time before goddamn “The Jeffersons” existed. Über-dorks who were there in ‘71 to witness firsthand the low budget charm of THX-1138’s initial incarnation are shit outta luck if they want to escape to that exact world again (unless they’ve held on to their VHS copies from 1980-whenever).
2. More American Graffiti
Hey, remember how charming Charles Martin Smith’s nerd character was in George’s breakout 1973 hit American Graffiti? Wouldn’t you just love to follow that guy through his hellish experiences in Vietnam? No? Well, then you’d better steer clear of 1979’s More American Graffiti, a strange exercise Lucas would later sadly admit had no reason to exist. Hey buddy, don’t be so hard on yourself. More American Graffiti has a great reason to exist—-by virtue of its middling and inordinate nature, the film serves to reenforce the unfettered greatness of the preceding American Graffiti. I feel this has happened at some other point in your career as well, but I can’t quite remember where…
3. Wasting Paper
As behind-the-scenes featurettes on various DVDs have taught us, George Lucas prefers to doggedly scribble his scripts out on lined yellow paper instead of typing them up on a fancy little computer. How many trees had to die, Mr. Lucas, to bring your assorted worlds to life? An entire rain forest, I’m sure. You know, if you lined up all the sheets of paper George has written on since 1975, you still wouldn’t be able to enjoy Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
4. Howard the Duck
I know what you’re saying — hey, George was just the producer, not the director or writer, don’t blame him for the atrocious parade that ended up onscreen. Little did you know this famous bomb was originally supposed to be animated until our whiskery friend brought up the notion of live action. “Sure, ILM can make a realistic duck puppet that won’t challenge humankind’s notion of right and wrong when it attempts to bed Lea Thompson!” To be fair, Lucas tried to bring comedy directing legend John Landis on board for Howard the Duck, but after The Twilight Zone that guy could just sense impending tragedy. Landis made Three Amigos instead, which also failed to light up the box office but eventually became a cult staple. Howard, on the other hand, still gives all who’ve seen it hellish and violent nightmares.
5. The Saxophone Incident
A 1993 Lucas-penned episode of ABC’s “The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles” found Harrison Ford reprising his role(!) as the famous swashbuckling archeologist in wraparound segments that framed a story concerning teen Indy’s experiences in Prohibition Era Chicago. The wraparounds, set in 1950 Wyoming, end with a band of thugs busting in on Dr. Jones as he hides out in a snow-laden cabin. Quick thinking allows our gun-less hero to pick up his saxophone (the instrument in the cabin what triggered his Prohibition memories) and blow the exact note to bring a mini avalanche from the roof down upon the invading hooligans. If Ford weren’t so damn charming and such a good actor, the whole scene would have played out with all the gravitas of your average “ALF” escapade.
6. “Rollin’ With Saget”
Admittedly, “Rollin’ with Saget” isn’t the worst crime of Jamie Kennedy’s career, but it is the kind of superfluous nonsense that helped dull whatever shine the Scream 2 star had in the era of Dubya. You don’t add a dorky white guy to a hip-hop novelty broth that’s already centered around a dorky white guy—especially when the former is six thousand times more famous than the latter. But I digress. For reasons humankind is still pondering, George Lucas filmed a brief cameo for the “Rollin’ with Saget” video (which is pretty amazing when you consider they couldn’t even get name-checked celebs 50 Cent or Paris Hilton). Having the man who created Chewbacca cosign on this stupid exercise emboldened Kennedy not only to continue acting but to brazenly date Jennifer Love Hewitt.
7. Ghosting Short Round
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has its detractors, but few naysayers ever cite the hero’s pint-sized asian sidekick in that film as any kind of glaring error. Indeed, the chummy bond (seasoned with flashes of honest love) between Indiana Jones and Short Round is football fields more pleasing than anything that happens with Kate “Screamin’ Mimi” Capshaw in Temple of Doom, and it was somewhat sad to see the kid jettisoned for boring-ass Sean Connery in 1989’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Flash forward to 2008: Indy comes back for a forth installment. Does his beloved Shorty return for a passing of the torch worthy of fifteen Kleenex boxes? Fuck no! Jonathan Ke Quan stopped being bankable in Hollywood around the time of Encino Man. Thus, Lucas brought in the kid from “Even Stevens” for Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and just said Indy got Marion pregnant in Raiders. Lame-ass. Thank god there was some aliens in there to make the whole thing interesting.
8. Snogging Carrie Fisher In Hook
I know it was only for like five seconds, but still, c’mon. That was gross. Like seeing your dad kiss your little sister. Blerg, it’s making me all tingly just thinking about it.
James Greene, Jr. is a freelance writer who has actually been paid real money by places like the New York Press, Geek Monthly, Crawdaddy.com, and Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader. A visit to his personal blog should eat up at least two minutes of your day.