I believe it was Chris Christie who once said, “Too much of a good thing is a good thing.” And while the governor was no doubt alluding to his thing for pork-infused rice cakes, the same sentiment can be applied to a certain class of movies I call dèjá views.
A dèjá view is a film that begs to be watched over and over again, and is reborn in a slightly different incarnation with each screening. Regardless of how many times you’ve seen a dèjá view, all it takes is that first familiar image or sound cue to trigger a voice inside you that says, “diet or no diet, you should have made that popcorn.”
Any movie can qualify as a dèjá view to any one of us; it doesn’t have to be a critic’s darling or a box office smash. Million Dollar Baby, 12 Years a Slave, and A Beautiful Mind all took home Oscars for best picture, and while I liked them all a lot, I have no desire to see any of them more than once.
The Big Lebowski on the other hand…
Please note that I’ve refrained from calling such films “guilty pleasures,” a contemptible label that gives fun a bad name… But I digress.
From time to time I’ll be sharing a few of my personal dèjá views in these pages. Since these films have proved a good fit for me I’ll drop a few crumbs about each and maybe tempt you into trying one or two of them on for size if you haven’t already.
Rest assured I have no intentions of going all academic and trying to explain the magical power such films have over us. More than anything I’m hoping you’ll be inspired to share your own dèjá views in the comments section following each post.
“No matter where you go, there you are.” — Buckaroo Banzai
I’ve chosen to initiate this series with the 1984 sci-fi farce, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension. All you need to know about this film is that the title character, besides being the epitome of hip Zen cool, is a top neurosurgeon, particle physicist, race car driver, rock star, comic book hero, and last hope of the human race.
Once MGM got the final cut of this gem in the can they broke the mold. Over the years it has afforded my family and me more snorts and giggles than are typically permitted in polite society. And like most dèjá views, each screening yields new treasures.
Buckaroo Banzai (as the film is usually called) received a glowing review from Vincent Canby in the New York Times and was a showcase for a number of blossoming film actors, including Peter Weller, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, and Ellen Barkin.
If you decide to give it a shot: On first (and second, and third) viewing, it’s best to lie back, let your brain flatline, and surrender to it’s sheer wackydoodleness.
Worth the price of admission: In the dual roles of Dr. Emilio Lizardo and Lord John Whorfin, John Lithgow gives the two most memorable performances of his career.
© 2016 Ron Dulaney