Review by Rumsey Taylor
Posted on 11 July 2004
Source VHS screener
It can be said without debate that Star Wars has enamored the largest fan base of any single film or series. Along with this assessment is a known stereotype, and, as a label, in describing these obsessively devoted fans, “Star Wars” is often followed by “geek.”
Tariq Jalil acknowledges this claim in A Galaxy Far Far Away. In fact, he underlines it with such obvious emphasis that it is unclear whether he applauds the “geeks” of his subject or if he has no sympathy for them; Jalil’s changing commentarial position prohibits his film from maintaining his intended objectivity. Furthermore, it is unclear if Jalil genuinely likes Star Wars.
Jalil does, however, successfully concede the breadth of his subject. The film begins with the first obsessive fans in line for Episode I (they contend, rightly, that the line waiting experience is largely exclusive to Star Wars) and culminates in the film’s reception following its public premiere. As Jalil argues, the extent of this phenomenon extends to numerous facets of the media. Approaching a line forming in front of Toys “R” Us (minutes before the film’s action figures midnight debut) Jalil notices the veritable crowd of men “… waiting to buy what is essentially a doll,” — there is an intended humor to the narrator’s speech, yet his condescension disqualifies his credential position as this story’s teller. Had this opinion of disapproval been consistent, Galaxy would be more credible.
There are moments where the film succeeds at employing a redemptive sympathy. At a convention, a storm trooper, in full black plastic getup, dances to music from a nearby boom box. Beneath the costume is a homosexual male, who equates his outfit with a shelter of confidence; inside, he is not judged for his sexuality or appearance. There is a saddening truth to his words.
A climactic moment occurs when, interrupting a growing line outside a Los Angeles theater, Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel show — as a pair the essential chauvinist voice of The Man Show. Both in intentionally inadequately applied makeup, the pair films a skit in which Kimmel will proclaim his terminal cancer and the two will “earn” a place at the front of the line. The skit’s depiction on The Man Show (unseen by me) is no doubt humorous — the cross-examination seen in Galaxy is not.
Kimmel admits, on camera, that the skit did not “go over well.” Fans display their disapproval for the pairs” bullying, misunderstanding intent. One, particularly, confronts Kimmel. The moment is an unexpected and revealing find for Jalil, and is likewise the deepest the film dives.
Finally, and to the film’s credit its topic supplies a wealth of material, philosophy, and entertainment — and victim to it, A Galaxy Far Far Away meanders in the wide, overwhelming scope of its course.