When I reviewed “Star Wars” in May 1977 — has it really been 40 years? — it already had been named Movie of the Year by Time magazine. In May. That was the kind of splash it was making all over the country.
I demurred. “It’s not even my movie of the month,” I wrote. “In fact, it’s behind ‘Annie Hall and ‘Jonah.’ ”
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“Jonah”? Jonah who? I have absolutely no recollection of the gentleman, so maybe I should have moved “Star Wars” to Number Two for May. I’ve watched “Annie Hall” dozens of times since then and never stopped laughing at Woody Allen wrestling with a lobster or trying to back up a car in Los Angeles.
“Star Wars"? I’ve never watched it since my review. Why bother? There are no surprises. And for sure no laughs.
Of course I had no idea it would become one of the most successful movies ever, spawning sequels and video games and T-shirts that collectively have grossed more than $42 billion dollars. Who knew?
But critics can be stubborn. I stand behind my original assessment, which essentially was “don’t bring your brains with you,” but “your kids will love it.” Mine certainly did, and they never let me forget it.
My mistake was paying too much attention to the hype that had accompanied the film in its journey to Minneapolis, instead of discussing the film itself. What I did say about it was, in retrospect, accurate: Great special effects, silly plot, dialogue that wasn’t very interesting. And I did point out that Carrie Fisher, unlike most cringing, hand-wringing heroines in action epics, was a take-charge woman, a sort of precursor of feminism.
So, no regrets. There are many movies I’ve watched for a second time and wished I’d been more attentive. Early Spielberg, for instance. Or “Breaking Away,” a brilliant look at class struggles in America that I treated too much as a Rocky-style underdog victory.
But “Star Wars”? I still think I was right.