Hey gang, this column was meant to run last Friday, but a funny thing happened. Sci Fi Observer stopped updating. We’re on what people call “permanent hiatus.” It is always sad to see a good blog go before its time, but before we turn off the lights, let us share in one last Fluff Film Friday.
Did you all have a good ID4? We at the Fluff Compound sure did. While we didn’t get to watch any firework displays, we did make a point of watching the fluffest celebration of independence ever committed to film. Naturally, I am referring to the Ewok celebration of Yubnub.
“Now hold on there, Charlie Fluffkins,” I can hear some of you crying. “Surely Roland Emmerich’s cinematic masterpiece, Independence Day must be the fluffest of all July 4th films. I cannot accept that you are trying to argue that Star Wars is fluffer than ID4.”
Well, you’ve got a point. Independence Day is pretty damn fluff. It is a blockbuster film with a Scifi Channel Original Movie sense of style. I love that it has really stupid looking aliens hidden inside even stupider looking outer shells. I dig that it has the gumption to have the good guys operating from Area 51, and they are doing so in a non-ironic fashion. And everyone loves that the good guys win because the aliens apparently are Mac users.
An even better and fluffer draw than all the fun B-grade stuff is the film’s relentless jingoism and populism. Randy Quaid’s portrayal of an America-loving kamikaze drunkard is a pretty impressive display of flag-waving, emotionally manipulative cheese, but he’s got nothing on President Bill Pullman. President Bill Pullman is a war hero who’s floundering peacetime presidency is saved by the timely arrival of the threat of alien invasion. With his wife dead, and having been given some space ass to kick, President Bill Pullman is able to save the entire planet and give a rousing speech declaring that from now on, all those crappy, non-American countries will start celebrating the Fourth of July. Will Smith helps.
All this fluff stuff and so much more has been packed into a movie where the invaders blow up so many landmarks that they make General Zod of Krypton look like a harmless vandal. This movie is textbook case of fluff. Yet, fluff as Independence Day is, the last two minutes of Return of the Jedi are even fluffer.
Jedi, the final proper Star Wars film, was the beginning of George Lucas’s campaign to screw up the greatest skiffy film franchise of all time. He does a good job, right out of the gate. After a pretty solid first act, Jedi abruptly turns into a lame kiddie film about barbarian teddy bears. After the movie climaxes on three separate unsatisfying fronts, all of the principals meet up for some serious hugging, as the warrior bears sing Yubnub and perform cartwheels to the backdrop of fireworks.
For those youngsters not in the know, Yubnub is the colloquial name for the Ewok Song of Celebration. It comes from the Ewok word for “freedom”. No, I’m not ashamed of knowing that. Shame has no purchase in the heart of those who are truly fluff.
Most serious Star Wars fans hate the abrupt feel-goody letdown that is Return of the Jedi ‘s second and third acts. The Empire Strikes Back ended with Darth Vader giving Luke Skywalker the most thorough beatdown in all of film history. It was dark and it was exciting and it was cool. Jedi, by contrast, adds teddy bears, has Vader wuss out, and lets Luke win without earning his victory. Yubnub is the condensation of all that lameness into a teddy bear sing-a-long. And yet…
Here’s the thing: George Lucas removed the Celebration of Yubnub from more recent releases of Jedi. And that omission sucks so hard. We here at the Fluff Compound freaking hate the yubnubless cuts. We demand our yubnub in our Jedi. Lucas had no right to take it from us.
Yubnub is hate and love rolled into one package. It cheesy as you can get, but it is earnest, happy, fun cheesy. While we recoil from the forced lameness, deep down we want to see Luke and Han give each other triumphant hugs while Wedge and Lando’s weird laughing-guy sidekick give each other high fives. It makes for terrible fiction, but we want to see our beloved characters singing and dancing and happy. We embrace yubnub for all the qualities we hate it for. And that is why it is fluffer than Independence Day.
Hmm, I feel like I’m forgetting something…
Oh, yeah over the holiday, we also found the time to watch a movie called Crossworlds, a direct-to-home video release from Trimark Entertainment starring Josh Charles and Rutger Hauer.
Crossworlds is a weird little film. When you watch a low budget, straight-to-video skiffy release you have reasonable expectations of terribleness. While each movie is unique, usually you can expect the quality of such a flick to be somewhere between the badness of Trancers, and the badness of Trancers 5: Sudden Deth. Crossworlds throws a monkey into that formula by being sort of not that bad.
I mean, it isn’t really a very good movie, and it does have Rutger Hauer in it, but fore some unknown reason, it mostly refrains from the deliciously stupid excesses that define the direct-to-video genre. The director, Krishna Rao, tried to craft a simple and entertaining adventure story within the strictures of a limited budget. It’s a shame.
Well, crap. Crossworlds wasn’t fluff at all. That’s not the note I would have liked to end on. We never even got to the Fluff Hall of Fame. I had so much I wanted to do with this column. Perhaps, like Jean Grey rising from the ashes, it may yet live again. Those who have joined the Fluff Scouts will be kept in the loop of any further FFF activity. The rest of y’all, we’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.
Crossworlds was directed by Krishna Rao, and stars Josh Charles, Rutger Hauer, and Andrea Roth. It also has a pre-fame Jack Black.
Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.