Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Retrospective PART 1

With it being summer and all, I thought I’d take a post or two or three (whatever it takes)  to discuss one of my favorite films of all time:

The summer of 1984 was a fantastic time. I was 9, going on 10, and the world was one of freedom, adventure, and pure unadulterated joy.

I had no idea how short that time span,  that freedom lasts. To a nine-year-old, time is molasses, a thick, never ending wave to be surfed at one’s leisure. There is no concept of such a thing as mortgages, credit card bills, doctor visits, oil changes, political debates, gay marriage, social injustice, or troubling moles that appear randomly on your back and grow black hair . . .

But I digress . . .

There are two movies that perfectly sum up that summer for me; a summer of bicycles and hide-and-go-seek and fireflies and thunderstorms.

One of them is:

which I will certainly get around to doing a feature about one of these days.

The other is Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Perhaps more than any other film in my past, this movie is a time machine that transports me back to a time when I was carefree, grass-stained, and freckle-faced. (OK, I still have freckles. Whacha gonna do?)

I know that there are some haters out there, some who absolutely loathe this movie almost with the same vehemence as Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But I say, “Come on! Really? Crystal Skull? That’s the movie that put Marion on Valium, made Indiana a grumpy old curmudgeon who tried to explain the difference between quick sand and lightening sand while sinking in said mire, and turned that dude from Holes and Even Stevens into Tarzan, complete with the worst CGI monkeys I have seen outside of Jumaji (”

Surely you jest. Temple of Doom is Indy at his most awesome, an arrogant, tough, awesome archeological pirate that takes no crap from anyone and gets the chicks.

That summer, my dad had purchased me a loom. Not just any loom, mind you, a loom for making potholders. That’s right, something along the lines of this:

My dad figured that it was time that he taught us kids the value of a buck.

That is exactly what we sold these little beauties for.

Night after night, we would sit in our living room and weave pot holders, while watching Silver Spoons and Different Strokes. Then we would take them door to door and sell them. After that, we would use the money for fun activities all summer long. We were poor, and the extra spending money really came in handy.

I hated selling those things, going door to door and convincing little-ol-ladies that they needed our pieces of junk that were really too small to be of much use of anything other than burning your fingers off when trying to remove a chicken pot pie from the oven.

Man, I love chicken pot pies.

Anyway, I was nine, armed with a bike, and twelve dollars. I did what any kid my age would have done: I went and saw Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 12 times.

And what a movie! Right from the beginning, you know you are in for something special. I mean, this action adventure flick opens with a glorious musical number in the vein of old Hollywood fantastics like Footlight Parade and Singin’ in the Rain.

Broadway-style opening number....

Wait. What?

That’s right. The Lucas-man and the Spielberginator decided to go in a bit of a different direction on this one, tonally. That is for darn sure. The opening musical number is not only visually jarring, but it also makes no geographic sense. Willie and the chicks disappear inside the head of a huge albino dragon and suddenly, the small nightclub is roughly the size of the USS Nimitz:

Then they pull red scarves out of each others dresses. The whole thing is flamboyant and goofy, but hey, Anything Goes.

Anyway, after the girls finish singing, Indiana comes into the scene, dressed in a dapper white tuxedo.

Here he confronts Lao Che, the notorious Chinese gangster who is notorious for . . .  something sinister.

You can tell by the goofy grins that he and his sons have painted on their mugs (that’s faces in Chinese gangster).

The encounter soon turns violent as Lao poisons Indy, who in return decides to skewer Lao’s son and ruin a perfectly cooked Cornish game hen. Mmmmm, poultry flambe.

Lao frowns upon this, and the game is on. Indy is having trouble staying conscious, and Willie Scott – the famous American singer and girlfriend of Lao – finds the antidote and slips it into her dress.

This is a diamond, not the antidote.

Indy grabs her, they smash through the window, and land in a car driven by Indy’s side kick, Short Round. That’s right, a kid is driving the car! How cool that is . . . if you are a kid!

I thought I had seen Short Round before when he helped Mikey find One-Eyed-Willie’s treasure and save the Goondocks, but my mind was playing tricks on me because that movie came out a year after this one.

Shorty drives them to an airfield and there we see the first really cool cameo of the film, Mr. Dan Aykroyd:

You don’t really see Mr. Aykroyd very well, but it is a cool cameo.

Lao comes driving in, but it is too late.

Or is it?

You see, Indiana made the classic blunder of chartering a plane that is owned by the guy who is trying to kill you. I bet you can guess what that led to.

After a typical Indiana Jones style map screen,

The pilots parachute out, the plane crashes and our heroes parachute out using a rubber raft.

Then they end up bumping into THIS guy:

That is when this movie turns weird.

Yeah, I know, doesn’t sound like I like the movie much, right?

Freakin’ wrong.

I love this movie.

Hands down, this is the best acting that Harrison Ford has ever done, in his life. Even more convincing than the time he married Ally McBeal to try to prove to the world that he was straight, after getting his left ear pierced at age 54.

If you haven’t seen this movie, you really should leave your computer right this second and go watch it.


Turn it off and go.

Don’t let me ruin the rest for you.

Anyway, I’m a bit tired today, so I am going to break this review up.

Tomorrow we will learn more about what awaits our heroes in the mystical land of India. Will Short Round kick some butt? (Yes) Will Indy and Willie get in the mood? (you betcha) Will someone’s heart be ripped right out of his chest and mystically set on fire? (you’d better believe it)

And this is a family film?

Anyhow, this is going to be much more than just a synopsis. We’re gonna throw some trivia your way, some stats, maybe even a factoid or two. It’s gonna be great, much better than that time that your mom took you to Aunt Edna’s and she paid you a quarter to rub her corns.

By the time we are done, you are going to agree with me that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is one of the greatest masterpieces in modern history.

Or at least you won’t hate it.

See ya tomorrow, Indiana Jones.