What was your favourite movie when you were a kid? There are a lot of good choices – “Star Wars”, “Gremlins”, “ET”, maybe “The Princess Bride”…mine was “Jason And The Argonauts”. What I will 100% guarantee is that none of you had a favourite movie whose origin was some scumbag producer saying to some other scumbag producer “let’s make a movie kids will enjoy”. Kids don’t like being talked down to and are really good at spotting it when it happens; and the one thing that every beloved “kids” movie has in common is that they don’t talk down to their audience.
Which brings us to “Caravan Of Courage”, perhaps the ur-example of a movie designed with kids in mind that treats them as simpletons. I was sorely tempted to just replace this entire review with a fart sound, or a drawing of an Ewok being torn limb from limb; but I’m a professional (current lifetime movie reviewing earnings: £0) so you’ll get some mild recapping before I get to the insults.
A spaceship with a family in it crashes on Endor (presumably before the events of “Return Of The Jedi”), and the parents disappear. Some Ewoks find the ship and rescue the two children, Curly McShitactress and Lil’ Grumpy; Grumpy doesn’t like them, but they’re unfailingly nice to him and eventually he’s won over by their stupid burbling language and moronic behaviour. There’s an Ewok kid, as well, played by Warwick Davis, but…ah, who cares. So, after about a damned hour of sitting round with their thumbs up their ass, they set off to rescue the parents and do some adventures. This involves very mild peril which is easily defeated, as the chief Ewok gives them all magic trinkets ideally suited for each problem. Then there’s a creature who’s approximately 200 feet tall, and they beat him with no trouble at all and rescue their parents (one of whom is Fionnula Flanagan, a very good actress who’s presumably sad she never got to be in a proper Star Wars movie).
I hated this movie. Every rotten boring condescending second of it. I hated the stupid Ewoks, and I hated that this, like so many other movies, went out of its way to show that short = stupid or childlike. I hated the lack of anything interesting happening, and the way they’d put something bright or shiny on every ten minutes to keep any passing toddlers’ attention. I hated the garbage child actors, and how they didn’t even show the parents til the last ten minutes. I hated that they didn’t subtitle the Ewoks, so there’s great swathes which is like watching a (really bad) foreign language movie.
Most of all, I hated the lack of effort put in by anyone involved. From the crappy Ewok outfits to the non-plot, every frame of this movie just feels cynical, “kids will watch anything”, a product made by joyless bastards for an audience they had nothing but contempt for. If you needed any pre- Phantom Menace indication that every good decision George Lucas made was pure luck, this is it.
I can’t be bothered writing more about this. Just don’t watch it. Don’t watch it if you have kids, don’t watch it because you think it might be an ironic laugh, just don’t. I sincerely hope everyone involved in the making of this caught an unpleasant disease that caused them mild discomfort for the rest of their lives.
Rating: thumbs on a poison dart blower aimed at George Lucas’ neck