Brandon Kleyla is an Indiana Jones fan. He was but a baby in 1984 when “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” was released, but he grew up on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. It is all well and good that this gentleman enjoys the Indy films – I sure do, and so many other people do as well – but there is nothing particularly interesting about his involvement with these movies.
He just likes ‘em. Cool. End of story.
He isn’t enough of an obsessed super-fan to turn his movie into a “Trekkies”-style freak show, and he doesn’t really have any sort of interesting perspective on the influence of the Jones films on pop culture, or new insight on the sort of people who are Indiana Jones fans.
He just likes ‘em. Cool. End of story.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of the story as far as Kleyla is concerned. He’s made a documentary about his obsession, and has interviewed lots of people about Indiana Jones. Kleyla’s story is just as milquetoast as the stories of nearly everyone else in this film are. The documentary begins with a trip to New Haven, Connecticut in order to catch up with the filming of “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”. All he manages to achieve there are interviews (near a dumpster full of discarded props) with a few locals who worked as extras. It seems that he missed the Crystal Skull filming all together, and not one of his interview subjects has anything interesting to offer.
The location moves on to the San Diego Comicon next, to get reactions from fans anticipating the release of “Crystal Skull.” It is here that things threaten to pep up a little bit with the inclusion of a gaggle of pretty girls in fedoras and tight tank tops conducting interviews, but once again, neither the girls nor their interview subjects have anything of value to say.
Next, a few designers of the Disneyland ride reminisce about making the ride, but this opportunity is also wasted as even these fellas fail to contribute much. I am sure they have some stories to tell, but we don’t get to hear them. One of the only truly insightful moments in the entire production finally occurs halfway through the running time when Erik Hollander (director of the “Jaws” documentary “The Shark is Still Working”) gets to say just a few words. His all-too-brief comments are bookended by a quick comment from Robyn Watkins (Miss Oklahoma 2008; her only connection to the Jones films is that she says she likes ‘em) and some rambling discourse from Deborah Nadoolman-Landis (wife of John Landis), costume designer for “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Of course Nadoolman-Landis is the first person we meet in this film who had something substantial to do with the Jones films, but she comes off here as being a bit trite.
The grand finale (or at least what passes for a grand finale in this case) consists of interview footage with some more peripheral players in the Jones production team: Anthony DeLongis (the whip trainer for “Crystal Skull”), Vic Armstrong and Wendy Leech (stunt doubles for Harrison Ford and Karen Allen in “Raiders”), some guys from Sideshow Collectibles, and Mike Richardson of Dark Horse Comics. All of these people threaten to be interesting on occasion, but the interviews do nothing to reinforce the filmmaker’s thesis, because he doesn’t have one. He just sort of rounded up people who like the films, and a few people who were marginally involved with the films, got them to speak a bit, and then edited the footage together without much of a direction to it. It strikes me that some of the people in this show have been interviewed in other documentaries, and have come off as far more interesting; therefore the blame must be placed on the director’s choice of questions, his inability to draw the best anecdotes out of his interview subjects, and a lack of skill in the editing room.
The film wraps up with a trip to Las Vegas to attend an auction of film props, including Indy’s whip and the holy grail prop from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. More meaningless interviews with random people on the Vegas strip drag the film down further. (By the way, the grail went for $35,000, which seems like a bargain when you consider all of the trouble that Jones and his daddy went through to find it. The whip went for $57,500).
The person I watched this film with has never seen an Indiana Jones film. I have seen the original three at least a dozen times each, and the new one twice. My friend commented that after seeing this movie, she has even less interest in seeing an Indy film than before seeing the documentary. And really, if I were put in her position, I’d have to agree.