Indiana Jones & Film Critics

My menfolk know I’m a sucker for Indiana Jones. I always have been. Sure, Harrison Ford has something to do with it, but I’ve always been easily swayed by anything related to Raiders of the Lost Ark and all that followed. I get a sappy grin on my face and know that no matter how many times I’ve seen any of the movies, if the opportunity arises, I’ll plunk down and watch. I love the corny humor, and the “no way could that actually happen” adventures Indy and his side kicks become involved in.

If you’re shaking your head on this one, here’s my thinking — and it is relatively similar with respect to books and music and food, of course: if I like it, then it’s good, but I won’t argue. What’s the point? Isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder?

I can sit and watch No Country for Old Men and enjoy it as much as I enjoy something like The Holiday or Amazing Grace, or Four Weddings and a Funeral, or Citizen Kane. In other words, I’m all over the place when it comes to anything I say I enjoy. But as much as I can say I have a wide range of movies I enjoy, only some rate watching over and over. The Lord of the Rings trilogy fits into this category, and so do the Indiana Jones films. No, they have nothing in common other than I enjoy them.

So when I read Union-Tribune Arts Critic at Large, Lee Grant’s review of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull last week, you’d think it wouldn’t bother me, being the magnanimous person I am with respect to others’ opinions being sacred.  Right?


Movie critics drive me crazy. They remind me of disgruntled wannabes, whether they never made it as an actor, or screenwriter, or had fantasies about being the next great director. Hell, half of them can’t even write, yet they are paid to write about movies they frequently don’t enjoy just to crap on everyone else’s entertainment parade.

“The film is a disappointment, as dull as a bunch of 60-year-old guys sitting around and, for fat paychecks, coming up with something to recapture their youth and the blockbuster movies made a generation ago,” Grant grumbles, most likely annoyed that the fat paycheck he mentions won’t be going into his own pocket. And if George Lucas and Steven Spielberg want to make a movie they know people like me (and my boys who grew up on those blockbuster movies Grant mentions) will enjoy, why not? I’ll probably purchase the DVD when it comes out, too. Why? Because it’s guaranteed to make me smile which comes in pretty handy some days.

Returning to my rant…

Grant takes the time to mention in his review that “the film is set in the late-1950s and we know that because the initial soundtrack music is Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog.’” Oh really? Clearly a significant piece of information. I’m thinking it was smart to set the film in a later decade considering all the actors had aged quite a bit and nothing is more annoying that trying to make us all think they haven’t.

But I’m ahead of myself here. Friday, six of us (including a nephew, my mother, and one older) son piled into two cars, headed to a favorite sports bar to eat, graffiti up the paper that’s spread on the tables for just that purpose, and then went to see the latest of Indy Jones. Outside of having to stifle snickers about the young woman sitting behind me having to rely on her date to explain what was going on and who the characters were, the movie was everything we thought it would be: a fun trip down memory lane with a few new things thrown in for good measure. We had some time to talk about the movie afterwards at Cold Stone while slurping on ice cream in the very winter-like weather we’ve had in Paradise this holiday weekend, but only comments about the parts we liked. My middle son knows everything there is to know about the older Star Wars movies and all things Indiana Jones, so he was in rare form talking to the two younger boys non-stop.

Hell, he’s the one who should have written the film review, not Grant, whose ideas must have taken an entire three minutes to put to paper. Does one lose one’s credibility as a critic if one doesn’t slam a beloved character? Why not just avoid writing about it at all?

I don’t need a film critic to tell me that Indy’s “iconic bullwhip [is] now used with a little more difficulty,” but that “he’s not a guy you’d trade in for a fresher model.” Well, not yet, anyway. Hmmm…maybe that’s the bigger issue. Mayhaps Harrison Ford is a reminder to some that they, too, are aging.

Like this is new information? I get it, okay?

Grant drones on with his attempt to mimmick a turd found in the punchbowl before the party starts by judging that Cate Blanchett is “struggling” in the role of Agent Spalko, and that “those big, bad Russians seem dated.” The film did get a rise out of members of Russia’s Communist party, however, evidently offended that their youth may be negatively affected by how Russians are depicted, accusing the West of tricking them. Now that’s completely hilarious.

Am I missing something, or did Grant actually go to this movie thinking that any of it was supposed to be believable. Really? Scary to think he might me in sync with the offended Russians on this. Isn’t the point of movies like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull part kitschiness? The characters are generally exaggerated, and reminiscent of those found in films from an earlier era. I don’t want Indiana Jones to be realistic, or believable, or anything other than what it’s been.

But what do I know? I’m not a film critic. I’m only someone who’s spent a lifetime loving movies in all shapes and sizes.

Well, and Indiana Jones.

Okay. So, Harrison Ford, too.

He’s looking pretty nice for 65.



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10 responses to “Indiana Jones & Film Critics”

  1. Movie critics are so transparent. With a movie like this that has gotten so much hype, it will either be trashed mercilessly or heaped with ridiculous praise. It will never be anywhere in between.

    By the way, I finally answered “anonymous.”

  2. He is still quite sexy. And since I haven’t seen the film that’s about all I can add!

  3. It will go in my collection the moment it hits DVD. Hopefully I’ll have talked the wife into BlueRay by then…

    Imagine that the Russians were treated as the bad guys in a Cold War Era film.. Whooda thunk it? I can remember being taught in school that they weren’t very nice people (usually before a “duck and cover” exercise.)

    Just have fun with the movie! It’s INDY for goodness sake.

  4. My mother LOVED this movie.
    My father HATED this movie.

    All I know is that…yeah MAYBE it was a little too much of a stretch of the imagination…but….isn’t THAT exactly what a summer blockbuster is supposed to be?

    I *heart* Harrison Ford. Period.

  5. D-d-d-d-d-d-damn nice for 65! *sigh*
    Hye, I was lucky enough to cast eyes upon Mr. Ford in a hot springs swimming pool in Montana about 10 years ago…looked MY-T-FINE at 55 too!

  6. Ritzy

    Glad you enjoyed the flick… on Friday night we opted for “Iron Man” over Indy. Hope you had a great long holiday weekend… how many days until your European Adventure?!

  7. Haven’t seen and it ,but I’ve seen the rest of them so I will have to complete the series one day soon.

    Harrison Ford was Elected to the “Archaeological Institute Board of American” for his contribution to ‘their craft”. So there ya go.

    How do film critics become film critics anyway? There is no excuse for most of them.

  8. I so want to get out to see it. Really, I need to find the time. Last weekend it was me and my youngest seeing “Horton Heard a Who”. Indy will always be the quintessential ultra-cool dude in my eyes forget the critics. They are just highly paid opinionated blokes. From a youngster when I first saw Raiders it had some influence on my wander lust and pursuit of a history degree (almost archeology as I practically took enough classes to have a minor in it). I hope I look half as good as Harrison when I reach his age.

  9. We’ve seen it twice — had to go back and revel in the subtleties and in-jokes (“I have a bad feeling about this…”) and enjoyed it all totally again. phhhht to the critics, and yum to Mr. Ford.

  10. I am taking my 12yo DD to see the movie again tomorrow after school. Once was not enough….

    Love harrison ford. My fave is the 3rd movie with harrison ford AND sean connery. Double yum. I could listen to mr. connery talk forever….

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