Monday, September 15, 2014

#1,491. R2-D2: Beneath the Dome (2001)

Directed By: Don Bies, Spencer Susser

Starring: Bob Hesse, Robbie Edwards, Bitsie Tulloch

Tag line: "Hero. Legend. Hardware"

Trivia: This movie was broadcast in three weekly installments on Fox TV in the U.S.

RD-D2: Beneath the Dome is a mockumentary that delves into the "life" of R2-D2, the little droid who shot to superstardom in George Lucas’ Star Wars series. Born in the small town of Bollux, England, R2-D2 (whose real name is apparently Reginald Dillingham) left home at an early age, when the friction between him and his father (a mounted policeman) became too much for the young droid to bear. Hanging out in London in the ‘60s, R2-D2 (whose close friends call him “Artoo”) hung out with a number of rock stars, including The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, before trying his hand at acting. Following a brief stint in the theatre (he portrayed Tiny Tim in a London production of A Christmas Carol), Artoo started receiving offers from Hollywood, finally accepting a role in George Lucas’ 1977 blockbuster, Star Wars. But like other actors from that series, Artoo found himself typecast. Spiraling into a depression, he was out of work for years, and during this time battled drug and alcohol addictions. For a short time, he even lived on the streets. His luck changed for the better when his old buddy, George Lucas, once again cast him in a key role in 1999’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, yet despite his good fortune, Artoo remained a very troubled droid, and only a brush with death would snap him out of his funk.

As you can tell from the above synopsis, R2-D2: Beneath the Dome is played entirely for laughs. Narrated by Bob Hesse, the movie (which was originally broadcast in 3 parts on Fox Television) features several big-name personalities, including Francis Ford-Coppola (who talks of how he wanted Artoo to play Michael Corleone in The Godfather), Samuel L. Jackson (a good friend of the droid’s from way back) and Steven Spielberg (the first time he met Artoo, Spielberg thought he was a trash can). Of course, not everyone was Artoo’s pal; he and Richard Dreyfuss had a falling out years ago, a feud that continues to this day. Along with the interviews, R2-D2: Beneath the Dome presents a number of hilarious stills (one was doctored to make it look like Artoo was dancing behind John Travolta on the set of Saturday Night Fever), and follows Artoo as he attempts a dangerous stunt that, in the end, just might kill him.

By all appearances a serious documentary, R2-D2: Beneath the Dome is in reality a very funny movie. Even those who aren’t fans of Star Wars will appreciate it (the humor is spot-on in almost every scene). But if you’re a Star Wars aficionado, R2-D2: Beneath the Dome is an absolute must-see.

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