I was thinking recently that I have watched an inordinately high number of “Star Wars” documentaries. Basically, if someone makes it, I watch it.
Usually, these documentaries take one of two forms. The first kind is made with the full co-operation of George Lucas. This type — which typically details the making of the movies — is often found as a DVD extra.
The second kind is the one that usually explores “Star Wars” fans. For example, this kind shows the people who waited in line for weeks to see “The Phantom Menace” (such as “Starwoids”) or looks at the people who are either compulsive collectors of “Star Wars” merchandise or live some kind of a “Star Wars” driven lifestyle. “Jedi Junkies” — which is embedded below via Hulu — is along this second kind of a documentary.
I think the best type of approach for a documentary maker to use with this kind of film is to neither mock the participants nor to glorify them. It’s best to just present them as they are and let the viewer make his or her own decisions. “Jedi Junkies” succeeds on this account.
Now, when I was growing up, I was really into “Star Wars.” I loved the toys, the books, the TV shows, anything. But, like most, people I grew up and I grew out of it. It still has a special place in my heart (I went to the midnight showing of “The Phantom Menace” and waited in line for half a day for tickets), but if you were come into my house, you wouldn’t see any traces of the movies.
However, some people have grown up, but they have never grown out of the movies. You will meet some of them in “Jedi Junkies.” I think one thing that keeps a person who is obsessed with “Star Wars” (or any other fictional property) sane is the thought that they are not alone in their obsession. In fact, it’s even better if they can point to someone even more devoted than them. “Yeah, I’m bad, but did you here about this one guy who …”
The stories told in this film range from a guy who started an academy to teach people how to lightsaber fight to a guy whose family has to sleep on the floor because “Star Wars” toys have taken up too much space in their apartment. There also is the story of a guy who makes one-of-a-kind lightsabers that may prove very tempting.
In the end, Mark Edlitz’s “Jedi Junkies” doesn’t break any new ground in the “Star Wars” documentary field, but it’s a breezy 72-minute trip into a world that’s best only to visit.
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