The force is strong with them.
Chances are, you probably already know that there are a lot of rabid Star Wars fans in the world. It’s possible, though, that you might not know just how far some of them go in their fandom, such as the guy who owns so many collectibles that he has to sleep on the floor because there’s no more room in his house for a bed, or the burlesque dancer who regularly performs a Star Wars-themed strip tease, or the unemployed guy who spent months of his life and every penny he had building a life-size Millennium Falcon in his back yard. These are the fans and their world explored in Jedi Junkies, from documentary filmmaker Mark Edlitz (The Eden Myth).
Although it’s only 73 minutes, the movie covers a lot of ground, showing Star Wars fans to be a surprisingly varied bunch. This is an upbeat, feel-good documentary, so the fans are never portrayed as a sad joke, or as something frighteningly freaky. Instead, the point is made that these are folks who are very passionate about what they do.
The movie begins as you’d expect it to, with some fans showing off their massive collections of toys and collectibles, and others in costume debating who would win in a fight between Darth Vader and Darth Maul, as well as that old chestnut, “Did Han or Greedo shoot first?” A few psychologists chime in with comments about fans longing for a sense of community, experiencing “Peter Pan syndrome,” or being obsessive (but not obsessive compulsive) about their collections. It’s as if Edlitz is including these things at the start because that’s what folks expect from a doc like this, before he gets into the really interesting stuff.
We get to meet New York Jedi, a stage combat and fight choreography school specializing in lightsaber fighting, using moves based on the movies, as well as props and costumes. They clearly put a lot of hard work into their routines, and the results are impressive. Or consider artist Bob Iannaccone, who builds custom lightsaber hilts for fans. Had he pursued a career as a traditional sculptor, he might have spent a life languishing in obscurity. Instead, thanks to his love of Star Wars, his work is prized by collectors and is on display throughout the world. We also meet Star Wars tribute band Aerosith, and we see how much work and stress goes on behind the scenes at one of their performances at a convention.
The movie also takes viewers deep into the world of Star Wars fan films, more and more of which get made each year. We visit the set of Tremors of the Force, two years in the making, as actors and actresses go through elaborate makeup and costuming to live out their Star Wars dreams in front of a low-budget green screen. The creators of the popular Chad Vader online series are interviewed as well. It’s also here that we meet fan filmmaker Dennis Ward, the guy who built the life-size Millennium Falcon. His story is so funny and interesting, it could be a documentary of its own, and it even concludes in a pure Star Wars-ish way.
Hey, you can’t have a bunch of Star Wars fans in the room without hot babes wearing the “Slave Leia” costume, right? In Jedi Junkies, we see a lot of these women, with some fleeting explanations as to what inspires them to don the classic metal bikini. In addition to burlesque Slave Leia, there’s also bellydancing Slave Leia, and a woman who’s made a living at not just modeling the Slave Leia outfit, but making and selling the costume online. That’s a lot of Slave Leia.
What if you’re not a Star Wars fan? You’ll likely miss out on a lot of the references, but you’ll also get a peek into a quirky world you would otherwise not know about. For fans, there’s a lot of stuff here you’ll likely be already familiar with, but these folks are interesting enough personalities, that I imagine even diehard fans will find plenty to enjoy. The only viewers who would not enjoy this are the internet haters who go out of their way to whine and complain about the prequels. Jedi Junkies is pro-prequel as much as it is in love with the original trilogy, so you’ll have to take your prequel hate somewhere else.
Some actors from Star Wars get screentime, including Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Ray Park (Darth Maul), and Orli Shoshan (Shaak Ti). Olivia Munn gets a generous amount of screentime as well, commenting on the “sexiness” of Star Wars fans. Yeah, OK. The emphasis of the movie, though, is not on the celebs, but on the fans.
The picture and audio are basic, not flashy, but not with any glaring flaws. The disc is totally bare bones, without so much as a menu. The movie starts playing the second you put it in, and after the credits, you’re dumped onto a blank screen. Zero extras.
There’s not a lot of depth or meaning to Jedi Junkies, but it sure is a lot of fun. Everyone’s love and enthusiasm for Star Wars is so infectious, that by the time it’s over, you’ll want to pick up a lightsaber and start swinging it around your living room.
Guilty, not. (That’s Yoda-speak for “Not guilty.”)