When Star Wars debuted in 1977, my dad threw his gears into full throttle stoke. Which was funny because he was one of those gnarly, no-bullshit WWII veterans who loved manly stuff like The Godfather and Bridge Over The River Kwai. He saw Apocalypse Now, but I remember asking him how it was the next day and Dad saying it was too weird for him. And yet, old school tendencies aside, he was way ahead of his time when it came to technology. Dad was the first person I knew to buy a home computer and to put it to robust use tracking his stocks and expenses. I’m talking about those clunky, old-ass monsters with green monitor screens and no Internet connection. Because there was no Internet at the time. Not in people’s homes, anyway. The fact that he enthusiastically hopped on the computer train before virtually anybody else always struck me as both funny and rad all at the same time.
Technology movies invariably followed trends, and flicks like War Games, with its dour, sanctimonious overtones, positively enthralled him, and even though Star Wars wasn’t overtly about computers, as soon as it hit the theaters, he was all over it. But he wanted it to be a real father/son thing, and I was A OK with that. I mean, who didn’t want to see Star Wars with his dad? On a Saturday afternoon, on what I recall as a grey spring sky, we hopped into the car and…
“Oh shit,” Dad said. This was language he rarely used around me, though by age 9, I’d heard far worse on the playground. And I loved when he swore, anyway.
“What?” I asked.
He opened his door and disappeared around the back of the car.
“Shit,” I heard him say again.
I got out myself and walked around the back to see him standing there looking pissed.
“What?” I asked helplessly. I was utterly clueless until he gestured to what should have been obvious to me — the flat rear tire.
It would be another week before we got the time to go see Star Wars. Was it worth the wait? At the time, yeah it was. And it felt like an eternity, having to listen to all of my classmates yammer on about the plot and the props. Spoilers were not only not telegraphed those days, they were encouraged by all. At least in the schoolyard. Still, for a 9 year old boy in 1977, knowing the plot of Star Wars did zero to diminish the experience of seeing that movie in a theater. Mind blown from the first five minutes. I’ve seen all of the films since, but honestly, I can take or leave Star Wars. At the worst, it’s good, simple fun, packed with two-dimensional archetypes and heavy-handed socio-political themes. In its better moments, the franchise showcases inventive characters, some laugh-out-loud moments and white-knuckle-inducing chase scenes that have you leaning forward in your seat, all but unable to breathe. I’m going to see Rogue 1 this weekend. Damned straight I’ll check the tires first thing in the morning.