Nov 18, 2012

Time Bandits

When I came home for Christmas break in 1981, my brother told me, "Go see Time Bandits! If you like Monty Python, you'll love it.  Believe me!"  I liked Monty Python, and besides, he was right about Meatballs (1979) and Popeye (1980), so I went.

It was awful.

11-year old Kevin (Craig Warnock) lives in a dreadful British suburb with abusive parents -- they watch tv  (in the movies, watching tv is a sign of weakness of character, or in parents child abuse). So he escapes through books (which apparently are ok).  His favorite subject is history.  He has plastered his bedroom walls with pictures of Medieval knights and ancient Greek warriors.




Not to mention a cut-out of a muscular Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, in red-striped bikini briefs, placed right next to the light switch so Kevin can see him every time he turns the light on and off.

Neglected, misunderstood kid who reads a lot, and likes nude men.  So far, standard gay-vague.  All he needs is a boyfriend.

Enter the Time Bandits -- six dwarfs who used to work for the Supreme Being. They have stolen a map that shows the location of holes in space-time, which they are using to steal fabulous treasures from Napoleon, Robin Hood, and so on.  They kidnap Kevin and bring him along.

We're supposed to like the dwarfs, but they're manipulative, greedy, self-serving, reprehensible.  With no buddy-bonds.  I kept trying to find special pairs among them, but they acted as a solid mass of reprehensible egoism.

Kevin finally finds the place he belongs, ancient Greece, where King Agamemnon (Sean Connery) offers to adopt him. Not a boyfriend, but at least a hunky father figure, like Jai's Tarzan.  But the moment someone starts to care for him, the dwarfs arrive and spirit him away.

Wait -- what happened to the opening, where Kevin was carefully established as gay-vague?  Nothing comes of it.

But at least ancient Greece was sunlit.  Every other time period is drab, washed-out, depressing.

Not even any beefcake to liven things up.  Agamemnon never takes off his shirt.  Michael Palin is tied up in his underwear, briefly.

Finally -- after many, many people are cheerfully killed,  the Surpreme Being catches the dwarfs, chastises them, and sends Kevin back to modern-day Britain.  Is he better, wiser for the adventure?  Has he recognized his true self?  Does he at least click his ruby slippers together and say "There's no place like home?"

No.  Not at all. His parents explode, his house burns down, and he's left homeless and orphaned on the street, much worse than before. Roll the end credits.

Roll a shot of me and my date blinking as we leave the theater, silent until one of us says "We could have seen Taps. . .or Ghost Story...or Piranha 2."

Cue to us going back to my house and chasing my brother around the room.