Sometimes a film deserves to die on the vine, like the ninth sequel to a horror franchise that isn’t scary anymore. Other times the fates allow for the existence of strange possibilities in cinema like in the 5 closest calls in movie history.
“Star Wars: The Phantom Menace”.
Jar Jar Binks entire existence is a string of close calls mashed together into one large eared dope. Somehow he manages to charm the good old future Darth Vader, who typically doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and then he leads battles just flopping around yet doesn’t catch a beam blast to the chest or get smashed under a robotic foot. Just listen to his voice that has to be what your typical Aryan hate group hears anytime they’re railing against immigration and you have to be amazed that not only did he not annoy the Jedi into giving him an accidental lightsaber fragging in “Star Wars: The Phantom Menace” but somehow everyone behind that film didn’t find enough spine to say “Hey George, abouttttttt Jar Jar’s voice…"
“Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
When Tom Selleck passed on the opportunity to play Indiana Jones, the world had two close calls, one negative and one positive. The good effect was that the audience did get to see the classic scene where Harrison Ford shoots the sword exhibitionist instead of dropping into an elaborate bullwhip versus blade duel, which although it might have looked cool really wouldn’t have so deeply added to the persona behind Ford’s Indiana. The bad aftermath from this close call is that had Selleck made the role in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the children of the 80s would have been able to cover all their scars created from improvised bullwhips with mustaches as Selleck’s Indiana would’ve through sheer will allowed the mustache to last for one to two decades past its natural decline.
Telling the story of Troy Duffy, the writer/director behind the movie “Boondock Saints”, “Overnight” doesn’t spare any punches in the journey Duffy takes from lucky break to face plant to recovery. With verbal gasoline thrown in every direction, that “Boondock Saints” ever got made, let alone developed a cult following before Duffy was able to burn every bridge is one of the most incredible movie close calls. Watch Duffy talk to the band and crew about being denied entrance to the Maverick studios and see where most would go with a strategy of negotiation and humbleness, Duffy goes headlong into arrogance that fits best with your average dictator.
“Lost in La Mancha”.
If Tony Gilliam’s take on Don Quixote had been made, it could very well have been brilliant but that possibility was canceled out due to an almost textbook comedy of errors from filming near an actual military test site to an injured lead actor. All was not lost as the crew covering the making of Gilliam’s film ended up with the "Lost in La Mancha" documentary that is as interesting and passionate as the fictional film would have been. On the third day of production, right after a flash flood, Gilliam gets informed that insurance will cover any equipment loss but won’t cover the actual loss of shooting as the rain fell under the always convenient “Acts of God”. This scene alone has you hanging your head with a sigh as you realize what a blow this was right from the beginning.
Go ahead and try to imagine a life where Australian Yahoo Serious took over the North American consciousness like “Crocodile Dundee” did for a time. Thankfully this never happened but fate is fickle and this goofy guy could well have started down that dangerous “that’s not a knife” type road that led a lot of children into the terrible cycle of buying boomerangs then going to the ER then buying another boomerang until their college savings were dusted. There’s a gentle, innocent charm to the character that could’ve infected moviegoers but thanks to scenes like his introduction of the electric guitar, which leaves you wondering if someone needs to cop to watching “Back to the Future”, the sheer roughness of the performance leaves the audience wanting less.