Sunday, December 7, 2014

Starstruck (1979)

One of the most memorable settings in the original Star Wars was the bar on Tattoonine Tatoowien Tat-2-Ween Luke Skywalker's planet, popularly known as the "Creature Cantina" until an entire generation of obsessive-compulsive hypernerds came along and gave it -- and every single goddamned alien drunk in it -- a proper name, while also insisting that every single one of these aliens was of fundamental importance to the central storyline in some harebrained, convoluted way, revealed in one of the 37,487 Star Wars novels (approx. count) published between 1990 and 2010, all of which have been unceremoniously flushed from current continuity by subsequent Star Wars rights holders the Walt Disney Company. Ha ha! Fuck you, nerds.

Eat shit. Eat an entire bucket of shit.
Anyway, the Creature Cantina was so popular that Kenner made a (crappy) toy out of it (it was constructed almost entirely of cardboard and the tears of disappointed children), and it reappeared in the first Star Wars sequel, The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978). (It was official. It was produced. It aired. It was the first sequel. You can't deny this.) What you probably didn't know though is that the Cantina's "bar chock full o' aliens" concept was ripped off wholesale by this show, a goddamned sitcom about a dim-witted space frontier family who runs a space diner/bar/hotel in the far-flung, well-hung future of space, where children eat exploding cereal, tribbles pee in your lap before being accidentally sucked up by the vacuum cleaner, and the main guy forces everyone at his table to say grace, even the aliens, who undoubtedly worship gods of their own and seriously, how insensitive can you get? Of course there's a robot maid (programmed to sound like a British nanny), plus a second robot who looks like the result of a drunken tryst between C-3PO and the short-lived 1970s incarnation of DC's Robotman. And don't be too quick to dismiss the possibility: at one point, Not C-3PO thanks the robot maid for "last night", making it abundantly clear that these robots, at least, are entirely capable of fucking.

And paired off, the two of them are in no way reminiscent of C-3PO
and R2-D2. Who, by the way, I'm also convinced are fucking.
This first (and, thankfully, only) episode begins with auditions for the bar's new band, and it's easy to imagine the famous Star Wars "Cantina Band" landing their own gig in much the same fashion, although for some reason I picture the Cantina Band doing a lot more coke. And who knows, maybe they passed through this place, as it tries its non-infringing best to look like it exists in the Star Wars universe proper: there's a second cousin to Return of the Jedi's Ree-Yees milling around (Christ, just look him up, I had to), plus aliens that look like the Cantina's Rat-Face and Fetus-Head. (I'm sure those are the names Kenner would have come up with, if they'd thought to make toys out of them.)

Ree-Yees' cousin, Rick-Dees.
Later in the episode (the content may have sucked, but these old shows managed to pack a lot of it into 26 minutes) a shady businessdude shows up and tries to steal the family's apple pie recipe (Star Wars!), leading to a clumsy sci-fi fight, but as you can imagine the special effects here aren't exactly impressive, about on par with the music video for Billy Ocean's "Loverboy". Which, come to think of it, made considerably better use of this concept overall. Ultimately, there's little here that Earthlings would consider "humor", although the laugh track, clearly inserted at random, tries its best to convince us otherwise. Starstruck is a horrible, detestable footnote in Star Wars's history and influence, but it's one that's worth seeing, just so future writers and directors will know what NOT to do. Or they could just watch The Phantom Menace.
I know everything there is to know about movies, and I write books so you can too.

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