Celebrating Star Wars Like It’s 1999

(Please note that there are no spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens below so it’s all good.)

I remember when I first watched Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace on Wednesday, May 19, 1999. My friend Soerha and I were right at the front of the line for the 8pm show, saving spots for friends and family. We had been there since at least 1pm that afternoon, watching the people come and go as they went to their earlier shows.

When the release date of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was looming closer, we talked of watching it together. I joked that we could pull what we did when Phantom Menace came out and not go to school, now work, that day. I figured it would be easy enough, to ask for the day off in advance but I was just kidding. Sort of. I mean, I can’t force someone to shirk their adult responsibilities for the day and go to the movies. I don’t have a problem doing so but I don’t want to push that onto anyone else. It wasn’t like 1999 when we were seniors in high school and had officially stopped learning by the time May rolled around.

Not only did my friend go for it, but the others we enlisted were game to skip work that day as well.

I got there first, with a supply of hipster donuts in tow while sporting my boom box AT-AT shirt. I was there a couple of hours early – nothing like the insane early amount of time in 1999. There was already one guy there for our show. He got permission to take his godson to see the movie – the kid’s parents were going to pull him out of school and were going to join him shortly – because it’s not everyday you can watch a Star Wars film on opening day. We talked about watching the previous films in the theater, our experiences watching those, and how we both knew next to nothing about this one.

Truth be told, I didn’t really even know the names of the new characters. I had steered clear of pretty much every article on the internet, even reviews that didn’t have any spoilers, to save from being spoiled even a little bit. I didn’t even have any inkling of what the plot entailed. I hadn’t forgotten what happened when Episode 1 came out – I thought it would be safe enough to read a review of the soundtrack in Entertainment Weekly, only to see that one of the tracks was called “Qui-Gon’s Noble End.” D’oh! So yeah, I didn’t want to risk anything.

After the film, my friends and I were discussing the film in the theater lobby. We generally liked it although we had fun nitpicking at some minor stuff. I was careful though of not pulling a Homer Simpson with Empire Strikes Back and accidentally spoil any part of the film for those who hadn’t watched the movie yet and were walking to their screening.

I’m incredibly grateful that I liked Star Wars: The Force Awakens but I have to say, it almost didn’t even matter what I thought of the movie. Half of it was the experience – taking the day off (From advance. It’s not like I called in sick or anything :) ), hanging out with friends (None of whom would engage in a lightsaber battle with me. What’s up with that!), and just the act of watching a freaking Star Wars movie was what it was about.

Can’t wait for the next one!

Sidenote: Okay so obviously it does matter if the movie is good and does well as Disney plans to keep on making Star wars movies. I get it. The fact that I enjoyed it is definitely an added bonus!

Side-Sidenote: I had a few donuts left after we all had our share (and then some) so I looked to others in the line to see if anyone wanted any. They were gone in no time. I like how when you get older, the whole “Don’t take candy from strangers” thing goes out the window when someone random offers you donuts.

Further listening:
Check out these two Star Wars related MovieFilm podcasts:
– A film commentary for the original Star Wars. You can listen to it while watching the movie or on its own. I had listened to it in the car. I really enjoyed the insights of the two hosts, Zaki and Brian.
– Their spoiler-filled discussion on Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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