A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I saw Star Wars at a drive-in theater with my family. We were parked backwards in our station wagon, the one with the suicide seats that flipped up and faced each other, and we probably had a cooler full of Shasta sodas and a few Miller beers. I don’t recall what else was playing, but I remember every second of Star Wars (give or take).
From that point on my life would never be the same. Every future sci-fi film, every playground game, it was all influenced by the Star Wars universe, which, much like the one we live in, continues to expand in amazing ways. Also, Jar Jar.
When the next two movies of the original trilogy came out I saw them on their respective opening days. I can still remember, young as I was, the gasp that filled the theater when Darth Vader showed the paternity results to Luke. Today that would be a reality show.
George Lucas re-released the first three movies when I was in college. They had been cleaned up and extended, things were added and things were taken away. We prepared for the first showing by hosting a Star Wars iron-on party, in which we brought together our worlds of geek, beer, and girl(s), and decorated our clothing with a bunch of Star Wars images that I found in an old book at a garage sale. Man, we were cool.
When The Phantom Menace was released I drove from Tucson to San Diego to see it on opening night with a group of childhood friends. It felt like the thing to do. The ride home was only slightly less exciting.
Needless to say, I have always considered myself a pretty big fan of all things Star Wars. How could it possibly get any better? Like this:
Two boys later and the tint of Star Wars now covers us like a blanket of sepia stretching across real time and Instagram. It is everywhere, and it shows no signs of slowing.
In fact, the only other pop culture influences that can touch its impact are our love of Disney and LEGO, both of which have also embraced Star Wars to the point that our brand devotion to each is overlapped and blurred in the middle. Put on some Beatles and a Doctor Who shirt and you just cloned my family. Congratulations.
When I was a kid my friends and I used to spend hours making Star Wars creations out of LEGO bricks, and most of the time we wound up with something square and severely lacking in midi-chlorians. This is important, for we didn’t know at that time that midi-chlorians even existed. It wasn’t until the new movies came out and explained their role and the shapings of The Force that LEGO was able to harness some midi-chlorians of their own and take the whole Star Wars line of bricks up several notches. Several.
My kids have never seen a square Death Star, and while I wax the world nostalgia for many things, that is not one of them.
It is at the point now that Star Wars and LEGO are the peanut butter and jelly of our lazy afternoons and weekend downtime (plus any other chance the kids can get). All they want to do is build the world(s) they know so well, and then adapt them to fit into the one they have created for themselves. The creativity and imagination is palatable, and the quality time is priceless (minus actual cost of LEGO set).
Enter Jabba’s Palace (but be careful, it’s dangerous in there). My boys have spent weeks passing toy aisles that weren’t even on their way home to gawk and gaze upon the wonder that is Jabba and his posse (complete with Han Solo in carbonite!) and when the box arrived on our doorstep the other day it was like Christmas in July, but in September. Seriously, I should have built it up a bit or used the opportunity to squeeze some extra chores out them, but we live paycheck to paycheck and my boys hear “no” and excuses much more than I care to admit, and when something makes their eyes go wild who am I to get in the way?
It took hours to build, and for each direction and coordinated bend of little fingers, there were also running commentaries and wheels always turning.
It all came back to me, the innocence, the joy, the (new) hope, and it fell into a bottomless bowl of laughter where my little boys, and the one I used to be, played like it mattered, and The Force was strong in a moment much needed.
The boys were so excited that they couldn’t fall asleep that night — they yelled in heavy whispers and bounced on tiptoes well into the evening.
“What’s wrong with this picture?” I asked an hour after bedtime.
One was sitting on his bed, a pillow poised for launch just behind his head, and the other was midair, frozen like a cartoon.
“You’re not in it?” answered the youngest. And then I was.
George Lucas has earned every single penny.
This is not a sponsored post. However, I was provided a complimentary Jabba’s Palace set by LEGO. I was not paid to write a review or plug the product, but how could I not write about the joy it created? That’s the power of The Force, people. Also, this post was written prior to Disney buying Lucasfilm, and isn’t that exciting?!
Read more from Whit Honea at his site Honea Express and the popular group blog DadCentric. You can follow Whit on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).
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