Directed in 2010 by Mark Edlitz, Jedi Junkies takes on the fairly massive task of exploring the more obsessive side of hardcore Star Wars fandom. We're not talking about the people who own the six films on DVD or Blu-ray and pull them off the shelf a few times a year to enjoy on a weekend for kicks, we're talking about the guys who build life sized scale replicas of the Millennium Falcon in their backyard and then have sex inside it. We're talking about the ladies who dress up like Slave Leia from Return Of The Jedi and then belly dance across a convention floor and we're talking about the guys who teach courses in the proper uses of a lightsaber. What about a dude who builds custom made lightsabers in his shed and who has built a decent little business out of this talent? He's here too. Oh, and there's a Star Wars inspired band here called Aerosith which is lead by a guy dressed up like Emperor Palpatine.
Additionally the documentary, which clocks in at just over seventy-minutes, features a look into the Star Wars fan film community. A popular movie about Darth Vadar's brother, Chad, caught on some time ago and remains popular as it basically shows what it would be like working in a supermarket with Darth Vader. On top of that, we also visit the set of a fan film being made in New York City and witness the hard working crew setting up for green screen effects and the cast members getting into makeup for the shoot. An odd European fan film shows what can be done in terms of editing and effects as we watch two combatants duel only for one to fly away by way of some handy rocket propelled boots, and yeah, we see some Jedi Cats use lightsabers too.
We visit with a young man who lives in a small Manhattan apartment with his lady friend and young kid as he explains how he has had to tone down his collecting ever since he's become more domesticated simply because he doesn't have the room for everything he wants anymore and he's got larger financial responsibilities. We also learn that he and his girlfriend sleep on an air mattress because there's so much Star Wars stuff in the apartment they don't have room for a proper bed. Another man has up to thirty pieces of the same toy simply because he feels he needs to own as many pieces of one particular piece as are mentioned in the movies. He also makes custom figures and owns an incredibly rare Toys-R-Us promotional Millennium Falcon toy of which only approximately five hundred were ever made. It's big enough that it looks like you could sleep inside it. We also learn that Eduardo Sanchez, the man who directed The Blair Witch Project, is a fairly obsessive collector and that despite the fact that he's got a huge room dedicated to his collection he still has to keep loads of it in storage.
We get commentary by way of interviews with actors like Ray Park and Peter Mayhew, both of whom seem to really and truly appreciate all of the Star Wars fans and who note that they basically owe their careers to them. Fan favorite Attack Of The Show hostess Olivia Munn pops up a few times to offer some comments, noting that she hopes the guy who built the Falcon in his backyard has at least touched a boob once in his life. Evidently he has, but she offers to let him touch hers if he hasn't had that important life experience yet. A psychologist pops up here and there and offers fleeting and fairly rudimentary observations on why people collect in as hardcore a way as some of these people do, but this part of the documentary doesn't go nearly as in-depth as it could have and you feel that it does fall short here. As it doesn't offer much, it seems unnecessary and the space it takes up might have been better used for more interviews with the collector's and cosplayers and amateur filmmakers who live, eat and breath Star Wars fandom . Ultimately though, this is a fun, if somewhat shallow, look at Star Wars fandom made by some people who have an obvious affection for it. It could have gone into more depth as to why these people latch onto the series the way they do and it could have made some more insight into the psychology behind it all, but what's here is enjoyable enough for what it is.
Jedi Junkies arrives on DVD looking every bit the low budget standard definition video production that it is. Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen framed at 1.78.1 the picture is stable enough but soft and not particularly detailed. Much of the documentary was shot in convention halls and isn't always professionally lit and some of the interviews look murky. It's all completely watchable, however. Go in knowing that this was a labor of love more than anything else and that it's shot on consumer grade video and you won't be disappointed.
The English language Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix is on par with the video in that it's not anything to write home about but it gets the job done. Some of the interviews sound better than others and a lot of this has to do with background noise and general convention chit chat happening around the microphone at the time. Levels are generally balanced well, however. There are no alternate language options or subtitles provided.
The main extra on the disc is a commentary track with director Mark Edlitz who is joined by a few other crew members like the producers and camera man. This is a pretty active and jovial track with Edlitz leading the charge but plenty of input coming from his collaborators along the way. Topics discussed include setting up the interviews, some of the quirks that the interviewees showed, reception to the idea of the movie and where the genesis of the project started. There's a nice mix of humor and information here and it's worth listening to as some fun stories are relayed in a very casual, laid back manner.
Rounding out the extras are fifteen minutes of extended/deleted scenes (including more footage of Olivia Munn, a clip about building your own custom action figure, more on the cult of slave Leia and more) and the movie's trailer. Menus and chapter stops are also included.
Jedi Junkies isn't going to win any awards for audio or video presentation and at just over seventy-minutes it feels like it could and should have been much longer and more in-depth. With that said, for a low budget independent production, the crew has delivered and interesting movie worth seeing that treats its subjects with the right amount of respect and good natured humor. Unless you're a hardcore collector this isn't likely something you'll need to watch over and over again but it is worth seeing if you have an interest in Star Wars fandom. Rent it.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.