Retired movie critic Bob Lundegaard has a few regrets about movies he panned, but “Star Wars” isn’t one of them. In a short first person piece penned at his former outlet, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the man with a Coen Brothers character named after him stayed resolute in his original assessment of “A New Hope.”
“There are no surprises. And for sure no laughs,” said Lundegaard, adding that he has never revisited the film since his first review in 1977. Lundegaard admits he was dismayed by the massive amounts of praise heaped on the George Lucas movie, especially since it came out the same year as “Annie Hall.” “My mistake was paying too much attention to the hype,” said Lundegaard.
“I stand behind my original assessment, which essentially was ‘don’t bring your brains with you,’ but ‘your kids will love it.’ Mine certainly did, and they never let me forget it,” he said. “What I did say about it was, in retrospect, accurate: Great special effects, silly plot, dialogue that wasn’t very interesting. And I did point out that Carrie Fisher, unlike most cringing, hand-wringing heroines in action epics, was a take-charge woman, a sort of precursor of feminism.”
He had no inkling of the billion dollar franchise “Star Wars” would become, though it sounds like that would not have changed his opinion one iota.
Lundegaard’s son, Erik, has carried on the family tradition. Discussing his father’s career in USA Today in 2006, he wrote: “His critical tastes tended to reflect Joseph Pulitzer’s journalistic motto of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted — that is, he tended to like little-seen foreign films more than your typical Hollywood thump-o-rama.”
Lundegaard’s tastes may have been galvanizing, but his reputation earned him the admiration of Joel and Ethan Coen. The directing duo named William H. Macy’s character in 1996’s “Fargo,” Jerry Lundegaard, after him. Let’s hope he gave that one a better review.