The fifth Indiana Jones movie has been pushed back to 2023, perhaps because it's taking a long time to find a good title.
It doesn't matter what they call it. Put out "Indiana Jones and the Improperly Calibrated Self-Checkout Aisle Scale" and it'll make $436 million. "Thrill as Indy puts the small bag of taco mix powder in the bag, but the scale doesn't think he's bagged the item! Gasp as he has to call for help because he's already pushed the "I do not want to bag this item" button more than three times! Dun-da-da daaaa! Dun-da-daaaah!"
I have no idea what it's about, but I expect it will confront the fact that its hero is old. Harrison Ford will be 81 in 2023. Yes, people are living longer and staying vital, but you cannot expect an octogenarian to be dragged by a truck while holding onto a bullwhip. There are bone-density issues. Try explaining that to the ER doc.
"Good Lord, what happened to this man? His hip's broken in three places! Was he robbed? Have you called the police?"
"He was trying to retrieve an ancient medal revered by the people of Qxioltliwu, a tribe that flourished in Mesoamerica in the 12th century, and it was stolen by morally compromised archaeologists, so he had to jump onto the truck from a cliff and punch everyone to get the medal and give it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art."
"Are you his guardian or caretaker? I'm going to have to make a report."
If they wanted a realistic Indy movie, it would take place at the mall at 8 a.m., where Indy shows up to do his morning walk and pursues a devious, sophisticated French archaeologist at a slow pace. There would be a big, long action set-piece where the villain goes into the Gap and hides in a dressing room, or perhaps dons that classic all-white desert suit, goes into the Apple store and blends in with the decor so well Indy can't see him.
Look, I hope the movie is good. I love the character. But the first movie came out 40 years ago. If you'd told us in 1981 that they would be releasing Indy movies in the impossibly futuristic year of 2023, we would have been stunned: "So, Indy's grandson is finding rare artifacts on the moon?"
"No, it's Harrison Ford, still crackin' the whip! It's the fifth Indy movie!"
"Uh huh. And there are five 'Star Wars' movies in 2023."
Let me put it this way: We're about the same distance from the original Indy movie as "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was from "Casablanca." Imagine reading, in 1979, that the 80-year-old Humphrey Bogart had agreed to return as Rick for the fourth sequel and would once again play the cynical but idealistic cafe owner in Morocco. Or Clark Gable was coming back for "Gone With the Wind V: Gone Harder," or something. It would seem ridiculous. But here we are: Indy, Star Wars, Batman, Spider-Man, Ghostbusters over and over again.
Thank you, Hollywood, for all the well intentioned entertainment, but please: Recycling these old stories is just microwaved meatloaf, and a sign you've given up and regard the audience with amused contempt. Show some imagination. There's nothing more pathetic than recycling material and coasting on old glories.
(Note: This column is a revised version of a piece that originally ran in 2008 about the release of "Indiana Jones IV.")