A bristling pipsqueak of a documentary, “The People vs. George Lucas” is an engaging idea in search of a movie. As would be expected of anything that challenges his cloistered world view, Lucas appears only in archival footage: Alexandre O. Philippe’s doc consists largely of the revenge of the nerds, whose imaginations, tethered to Lucas’ increasingly batty output, complete the “Star Wars” “reality”: it does belong to the fans, and they react to the latter-day disappointments from their beloved brother figure with anger, disappointment, a sense of possession. “I love-hate George Lucas, I love-hate him hard.” What could have been a more searching, indeed, even profound dip into the power of pop culture mostly evokes “Get a Life!” or, “You kids get outta my rec room!” An entire feature could probably sustain parallels between Lucas and other twentieth-century figures who spun religion-steeped gold from science-fiction straw. There’s something deeply melancholy about the young buck who created something that took over his life, and the lives of thousands of others. Instead, it’s sustained nitpickery of a low order. It doesn’t get much better than the latter-day Lucas describing “my vision” to Charlie Rose. Writers are interviewed in their lairs, with backdrops of books or DVDs or junk collectibles: the highlight would be Chris Gore sniffing an original souvenir program. Who’s it for? Whoever gets an instant tingle from the title alone or the moment when a post-middle-aged man intones that Georgie Lucas is a saint for making “fun” in this world. With Gary Kurtz, who was cast out of the Lucas-verse decades ago, Glenn Kenny, Dale Pollock, Neil Gaiman, Ray Harryhausen. 97m. (Ray Pride)
“The People vs. George Lucas” plays Saturday through Monday, and Wednesday, at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.