When I was 8 years old I went to the movie theater 17 times to see Star Wars (now titled "Episode IV: A New Hope"). I couldn't get enough of it. Back then I was doled out $2 allowance a week, which was somehow enough to cover the ticket price.
As the action figures started appearing in the stores I stopped going to see the movie and started my collection, but at $1.89 a pop I only had enough money to buy one action figure per week. The first week I bought R2D2 and my mom, who had seen the movie twice with me said, "Now he's a robot, right?" to which I replied, "No, Mom. He's a DROID." That week R2 was my constant companion. If he wasn't in my pocket, he sat out on the corner of my school desk while I learned how to write in cursive.
The second week I purchased Princess Leia and although this raised my mother's eyebrows, she said nothing, happy in the satisfaction of seeing me learning the lessons of finances and the benefits of saving money to buy things I wanted instead of frittering it away on candy and soda pop.
The third week I came home with C3PO, the fourth week was a Stormtrooper, and then, completing a full month's worth of buying, I brought home Darth Vadar -- at which point my mother must have been seriously questioning my decision making abilities because she turned to me and said, "What about Luke Skywalker? Or Han Solo or Chawacca? Don't you like those characters?" I looked up from Leia and 3PO and R2 running from Vadar and his Stormtrooper and said, "It's CHEWBACCA!! Yeah, of course I like those guys!! They're the GOOD GUYS!!" So she said, "Well why haven't you bought any of 'those guys' yet?" I remember rolling my eyes and summoning a logic that would surely put her in her place, "because they're not in the movie yet!!"
You see, I was buying the characters in order or appearance. I still had to get a Jawa before I could pick up Luke Skywalker. Duh!!!
Years later I got the opportunity to work on Star Wars - Episode I: The Phantom Menace at Skywalker Ranch. Now keep in mind that this was before anyone knew about Jar Jar Binks, or the stupid walking stick -looking droid army, so I was considerably proud of myself for having fulfilled my destiny. I had somehow gone from fan-boy to actually working on a day to day basis with the man who had created the mythology that my entire childhood revolved around.
I was so jazzed about the accomplishment I even flew my mother out from Kentucky for Mother's Day to visit the Ranch about a month before Episode I hit the theatres. While there, she had this great moment when I saw her standing in the doorway of the bathroom next to my office, aiming a camera at the porcelain toilet inside. "What are you doing?" I asked, hoping none of my co-workers would walk in to witness this embarrassment. "You remember all those birthdays and Christmases growing up when I'd get you all those Star Wars toys?" she asked. "Yeah?" I answered, still bewildered. "Well, I figure buying that stuff must have at least paid for this toilet, so I'm taking a picture of it to show everybody back home." Regardless of her sass, I could tell she was very proud and during the visit she boasted of where life had taken me. It was literally and completely a Dream Come True. Then on May 4, 1999 something terrible happened… The Phantom Menace was released.
I remember as I watched it with everyone else for the first time. I could FEEL the excitement and anticipation in the air when the 20th Century Fox logo flashed up on the screen and the BUMP BaDA BUMMMMMM music roared. Unfortunately, nothing that followed in the movie rivaled the complete and utter high of those first 20 seconds. For a few days after I was in denial about how BAD the viewing experience had been but finally, about a month later, I accepted the fact that Star Wars had lost its hold over me.
Episode II came and went and although I had deeply hoped that George might get it right this time, I wasn't surprised when I was left less than enthralled after seeing it.
And now, in just 11 days, the saga will be complete when Episode III: Revenge of the Sith unspools. 27 years after first meeting the dark and ominous Lord Vader, I'll finally know what events made him the personification of evil.
To be honest, after the debacles of Episode I and II, I had stopped caring, but then - just a few days ago - I started hearing reviews from people who had seen previews of the movie. Rather than just spouting hype, they criticized the atrocities committed with I & II and praised the fact that George had returned the franchise to glory with this last installment. The positive word of mouth and eye-popping trailers have had their desired effect on me. I can't wait to see this movie. This morning I sent an email to my friend, Mr. Inhibit Kerry's Excitement (MIKE, for short), letting him know that my Star Wars love was rekindling, to which he attempted to douse it with the reply, " Did the country get collective amnesia? Am I the last one that remembers that Episode 1 and 2 were total jokes?… Apparently their non-stop barrage of a marketing campaign has suckered you along with everyone else. Get ready for disappointment."
Please, George, Please!!! Don't let me down. Allow me the pleasure of walking out of the theater and turning to Mike and exhorting a victorious "HA!"
And if I've indeed been suckered, and this movie blows, and you've managed to once again convince me to willingly put more money into your pockets, and Mike gets to say to me "I told you so"… well then… I'm coming up there to take my mother's toilet back.