Fandom is a curious thing. Much ado has been made about what truly establishes the psychological difference between fandom and obsession, but methinks the line has been blurred over the years. As any entertainment franchise grows - be it STAR WARS, STAR TREK, HARRY POTTER, or even the adventures taking place in Middle-earth - it only stands to reason that fans - true, die-hard, uncompromising fans - are forced to up-the-ante personally in order to distinguish themselves more from the casual observer. Somewhere between costuming, collecting, and consuming, there always needs to be a healthy balance, but - seriously - what harm are we doing to ourselves or society-at-large when we "binge" over something so utterly harmless as a motion picture?
(NOTE: the following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you're the kind of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I'd encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you're accepting of a few hints at `things to come,' then read on ...)
In short, JEDI JUNKIES follows the lives and experiences of only a few fans within the stunningly huge STAR WARS fan universe. Unlike TREKKIES - which took the central narrative presentation of hand-picking a few enthusiasts who celebrate all things Trek and then followed their craziness through to the nth degree - JUNKIES pretty much is all over the place, but in a good way. No one fan's obsession is brought to any measureable closure, though there are a few suggestions about when and where and if to draw limitations provided by those who have first-hand familiarity with exploring (and exploiting) their compulsive behaviors.
Additionally, the film has smartly employed the services of a few psychologists who pop up in some moderation to speak about fandom and the whole practice. While they don't offer any Earth-shattering revelations, they do offer up a few cautionary words to those who'd throw on a metal bikini while trying to start a family.
To add modest insult to injury, fan-favorite Olivia Munn makes a few appearances (and, as she's been prone to do, incorrectly dishes out stereotypes instead of providing any substantive observations); PHANTOM MENACE Ray Park stops by for a few choices words about who would win in the ultimate face-off between Darth Vader and Darth Maul; Peter Mayhew (the man who played Chewbacca) shares a few anecdotes about conventions; and even Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) stops by to debate `who shot first.'
All-in-all, it's a fun way to spend seventy-five minutes, realizing that there's something magical and, perhaps, equally mythic about celebrating one's love for the STAR WARS property ... so may the Force be with us all!
JEDI JUNKIES is produced by Tuesday Night Movies Inc. (and the packaging indicates participation from Fanboy Films, as well). DVD distribution is being handled through New Video. As for the technical specifications? Meh. The video and the audio are good, at best. To be honest, I was a bit surprised by how low-tech all of this was, especially given the fact that there exist so very many extremely high-quality STAR WARS fan films. Audio levels fluctuate quite a bit (stay ready with the remote, because you may need it as much as I did), and the video quality is quite grainy consistently. I'm no expert on imaging, but I can say that my DVD player also could not quite get the `orientation' of the picture to work universally; the black bars gave me the impression that this was not fully letterboxed but was adjusted for widescreen televisions - however, when playing the image this way, the people were all tall and skinny. Again, this might be a problem of the original filming and not the production, but I thought it worth a mention.
Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there are special features! There's a filmmaker commentary, some deleted and extended scenes (don't really add much to what appears in the completed project), and three shorts (The Stars of Star Wars; Build Your Own Action Figure; and The Cult of Slave Leia). It's a very solid package, clearly prepared for the fan-at-heart.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. While the production quality really left a lot to be desired, methinks you'll find JEDI JUNKIES as much a delight as you do fandom. Face facts: if you're really interested in watching this film, then you're quite probably already won over by the premise. JUNKIES delivers exactly what it promises - a reasonably comprehensive look at those who have gone overboard, be it collecting, be it cosplay, be it coordinating their own mini-Star Wars fan film. It doesn't hurt having a few celebrity appearances, either, and the ones chosen appear to have embraced their respective roles within the larger fan community. Who didn't want to be Luke Skywalker, after all? There's great mirth and charm in watching those who take their obsessions seriously.
In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at New Video / Cinedigm / Docudrama Films provided me with an advance DVD screener of JEDI JUNKIES for the expressed purposes of completing this review.