Murphy’s Law – Indiana Jones and the Late Night Booty Call

Joel Murphy

Today, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens in theaters nationwide. I have mixed feelings about this movie. On the one hand, I absolutely think it is going to be terrible – Harrison Ford seems a little old for an action-adventure star, the plot seems uninspired and Shia LaBeouf seems like a poor substitute for “Short Round.” On the other hand, I loved the Indiana Jones movies as a kid and would relish the opportunity to see an Indiana Jones movie in the theater, for nostalgia’s sake.

At first, I didn’t think much of this desire to go see the film. I have seen the original three Indiana Jones movies countless times. My grandparents had all three films on VHS, so when I spent a few weeks with them during my summer vacations, I would watch the Indiana Jones and Star Wars films over and over again. So being suckered into seeing this new film hardly seems surprising. But then, I began to dig deeper and to try to figure out exactly what it was that was convincing me to see an uninspired update of the franchise instead of simply re-watching the original three films. Why would I give up my hard-earned cash to watch what was basically an Indiana Jones reunion special?

Those of you who read this column regularly know my feelings on the endless parade of Hollywood remakes and sequels. I get frustrated every time I see another bit of my childhood (Transformers, Alvin and the Chimpmunks,G.I. Joe) bastardized on the big screen. And yet, as Hollywood continues on this latest trend of using the original actors to make sequels to long dormant franchises, I have trouble summoning up the same level of disdain. Frankly, that’s because the formula works.

The problem with most remakes is that the completely disregard the source material. They take something we have a collective fondness of (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Dukes of Hazzard, Get Smart) and try to adapt and modernize it until somehow the end results becomes completely devoid of everything that made the original so special. The actors they hire to fill the roles feel like they are playing dress up, wearing the costumes of our beloved characters, but falling well short of actually embodying the roles they’re trying to play.

But sequels like this new Indiana Jones film tend to work better – instead of replacing the original actors with the Ben Stillers or Sean William Scotts of the world and completely revamping the characters to make them fit into modern times, you get the original actors reprising the iconic roles that we all love. Even if the plot isn’t as good as the original and the hero is looking a bit older and slower than he did before, it’s still nice to once again see Bruce Willis kick ass as John McClane or Sylvester Stallone lace up the gloves for a final bout as Rocky Balboa (even if he has a scary plastic surgery face now). There is something comforting about seeing the characters we love alive again on screen.

And it isn’t just stagnant film franchises that are getting in on this new trend. This summer, both the Sex and the City and The X-Files franchises have movies coming out featuring the original actors reprising their beloved roles and I’m positive many other popular television shows are sure to follow. These movies are counting on the fact that we will all pay good money to get another chance to see Gillian Anderson’s Detective Scully delivering a dry, sarcastic one-liner or Kim Cattrall’s Samantha Jones letting a dozen guys half her age run a train on her (again).

The reason I think these movies do so well is that they capitalize on human nature. Shows like The X-Files and Sex and the City go off the air because they start to get stale. The plots start getting forced and repetitive or, in the case of The X-Files, one of the stars decides to leave the show, and we gradually begin to grow weary of these programs. For movies like Die Hard and Indiana Jones, the sequels start to feel like tired retreads of the original movie, and we lose the desire to keep handing over our hard-earned cash to see the same formula over and over again. But, as time goes by, we begin to romanticize these shows and movies and we begin to overlook their faults. Newer, crappier movies come out and suddenly we begin pining for the old days of Indiana Jones and John McClane.

I think it’s similar to going through a bad breakup with a girlfriend. At first, you are just ready to be done with it and to move on with your life. But as time goes by, you begin forgetting about all the things the girl did wrong and you focus on how empty your life feels without her. Movies like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Live Free or Die Hard are the cinematic equivalent of the drunken 2 a.m. booty call hookup with that ex – one last hurrah for old times’ sake.

So I say we all go give Indiana Jones one last roll in the hay before we move on to a younger, hotter film franchise that will give us all of the things Dr. Jones was too uptight and old-fashioned to do for us. Okay, it’s time to abandon this metaphor before it gets any creepier …

In summation, while I am still calling for an end to all of the uninspired remakes and to the copious amount of modern sequels that Hollywood continues to churn out, I still think the cinematic resurgence of a forgotten film franchise can be an enjoyable thing in small doses. Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m saying all of this in the hope that this trend will continue long enough that is eventually gives us a Quantum Leap movie featuring Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell. Oh boy, would that be awesome.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go drunk dial Fandango to set up a late night rendezvous with Indian Jones.

Random Thought of the Week:

My boo and I can’t help but think that David Archuleta’s loss on American Idol last night has something to do with the fact that he didn’t sing nearly enough Chris Brown songs.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.


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