OK. I think it is time I came clean about something. Some people in my life know my secret, but at least a few of the seven of you who will read this probably do not. I know that what I am about to confess will be viewed by some of you as an inexcusable moral failing. I sincerely hope we can all move past this in due time, but I am not hopeful.
I have not seen any of the Star Wars movies from start to finish. Ever. I am almost 35 years old. I’m sorry.
Let me explain. Again, I’m sorry. Growing up, my two best friends were pretty big Star Wars fans. I grew up in the 80s and I think that’s when the original movies came out. I don’t know really, but that seems likely. Anyway, the original movies were often on in the background when I was at my friends’ house, but I never paid much attention. My friends could recite the entire screenplay pretty much word for word. I remember that seeming kind of odd at the time, but I can now do the same for The Cat in the Hat movie, so now I totally get it.
My wife always beats me up about my complete lack of Star Wars knowledge or interest, so perhaps you will be comforted to know that I have not gotten off easy. Does that make you feel a little better? Again, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to Dave Lucas and the entire Star Wars family.
My wife recently purchased the Blu Ray box set of the first three Star Wars movies, which are numbered four, five, and six for some reason, with the plan of forcing me to watch them. At long last. Nothing came of that plan for several months. We have children, so we don’t get to use the TV.
One afternoon last week, however, something terrible happened: my 4-year-old found the box set and demanded that we watch. I was flummoxed. I had no idea what to do with this request for several reasons. First, I wasn’t sure if the movies were age appropriate. I mean, what the heck goes on in these movies? How was I supposed to know? Second, I really didn’t want to watch. Other than watch The Cat in the Hat movie again, I couldn’t think of a single thing I wanted to do less. Realistically, however, my only viable options were to let him watch Star Wars or watch The Cat in the Hat movie again. I figured Star Wars couldn’t be worse than The Cat in the Hat from either a viewing pleasure or age-appropriate content perspective (could it?), so I just went with the flow. I was ready, finally, to do this.
As it turns out, watching Star Wars for the first time with your 4-year-old and 2-year-old is definitely the best way to do it. And that’s saying something. I can’t think of any other activity for which that statement would hold true.
So, the movie starts out with words scrolling up the screen. Yes, I did know this already because I’m not stupid and because that opening is referenced extensively in pop culture. I didn’t bother reading the words because I figured they weren’t that important and I hate reading.
As the movie opened, my 4-year-old had a couple questions.
4 y.o.: “Who is that? Who is the robot? Are those bad guys? I think those are bad guys? Are they on earth? What’s that planet thing? Is that the sun? Is that the moon? Is that an igloo? Is that space ship the bad guys’? Is that space ship the bad guys’?”
Once we had that all cleared up, we started to settle into a nice viewing rhythm. I could tell this was going to be fun.
And then that first fight scene with the storm troopers happened and man it was hella corny (kudos to me for knowing storm troopers because of How I Met Your Mother). But really, when the people get hit with the ray gun lasers and they fall out like cowboys in old Westerns falling off their horses? People like that?
4 y.o.: “Oh! There’s Dark Mater!”
I was kind of surprised that Dark Mater made an appearance so early. And that he looked like he was dressed for a school play. I guess this wasn’t a high budget film? I also had no idea he talked so much. You learn something new every day. I could tell right away that I wasn’t going to like him though. He was pretty mean.
4 y.o.: “Who is your favorite Star Wars?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
4 y.o.: “Let’s think who your favorite can be. Dark Mater? Or maybe that little robot?”
Me: “I think I’ll take the robot. I have a bad feeling about this Dark Mater character.”
While we were sorting through this, somebody shot a laser at the little robot. The little robot is called R2D2.
2 y.o.: “Shot the robot? What’s that thing? What are those people?”
4 y.o.: “What kind of animal is that?”
Me: “I don’t know. I think they’re on another planet or something.”
4 y.o.: “Who is that walking down? Those brown hooded things. Are they bad guys?”
Me: “I think so.”
4 y.o.: “Me too.”
Then my boy Luke Skywalker got some screen time. And let me tell you, that guy is geeky. Also, why had no one ever told me that his voice is basically that of Jimmy Stewart if Jimmy Stewart were a frat boy at an SEC school? That is really important information. Great body though. I like a leading man that is well put together and doesn’t try to be all muscly. I should’ve been an 80s movie star.
4 y.o.: “What’s that spider thing?”
Me: “Who cares? Want to watch Cat in the Hat?”
He said no, of course. But I’m glad he did because I hadn’t had a chance to appreciate fully the mind-blowing scene transitions. Amazing. It was like a mediocre Powerpoint presentation at an academic conference for scholars of basic microbial science or whatever.
4 y.o.: “Is that an igloo made out of sand?”
Me: “I think so.”
4 y.o.: “I want chocolate.”
4 y.o.: “But I had Cheez-It and banana sandwiches!”
Me: “No. I thought you were watching the movie. You don’t like it?”
4 y.o.: “I do like it. I just want to eat chocolate while I watch it.”
Me: “Watch the movie. Oh wow, I didn’t know Gregg Popovich was in this!”
That got his attention and got his mind off the chocolate. If there’s one thing my 4-year-old loves, it’s the adorably surly head coach of the San Antonio Spurs.
Me: “I have to say though; Princess Leia’s hairdo is pretty legit.”
4 y.o.: “It is.”
Then we all got bored and stopped paying attention for twenty minutes or so. Mostly we spent that time eating more Cheez-It sandwiches and arguing about toast. But based on the quick glances I made at the screen, most of the gang was just driving around Qatar the whole time.
When we started watching again, my 4-year-old sat down and started distractedly flipping through 7 Types of Ambiguity by William Empson because as a family we are nothing if not relentlessly on brand. Then we all got distracted because the 2-year-old was feeding dog food to the dogs by hand. We all joined in because it was surprisingly entertaining. Then we wandered outside while the movie was still playing.
When we came back in like an hour later, it was still on! Geez, I thought I had completed my obligatory viewing. There was only one thing left to do. I hit the stop button on the remote, ejected the disc, and replaced it with, you guessed it, The Cat in the Hat movie. It was a real Hobson’s choice, but someone had to make it. Luckily, the force field was strong with me on this day. Hahaha. See what I did there? I do know my Star Wars!