Though I largely consider myself an apologist for George Lucas against his most ardent critics, I find myself simpatico with one of their major points of contention: “Jedi Rocks.”
As always, the caveat, of course, is that while I agree with the spirit of their criticism, or at least can acknowledge their argumentation if not endorse it, I can’t go to their hyperbolic lengths. In this instance, I’m closer than ever before. But no amount of cringe can sully my cherished memories of Return of the Jedi after the fact.
For those unfamiliar, of which I’m sure there are few, one of the biggest revisions in the Special Editions led to an overhaul of the musical number featured in Jabba the Hutt’s palace. The adjustment came at the best of Lucas who (rightfully) felt that the puppet work in the original film did not measure up to the effects standards of the trilogy. Unfortunately, they took a charmingly bizarre song entitled “Lapti Nek” and replaced it with the lengthy and distracting “Jedi Rocks.”
If everything stayed the same save replacing the puppets with CGI, it’s not as if the segment would be perfect. Lucas rationalized the original scene by finding humor in the idea of a musical number in Star Wars. The biggest saving grace of “Lapti Nek” was that it could be explained away as an elaborate inside joke. At best, it was lovably cheesy.
So while “Jedi Rocks” provides the only instance in the entire saga in which I had to pause the film to forewarn my fiancée during her first viewing of the films, it replaced a scene that was plenty flawed in its own right. But neither song ruined Return of the Jedi. If Lucas wanted yet another crack at revising the song prior to selling Lucasfilm to Disney, I would not blame him. But while “Jedi Rocks” might make me cringe, I can’t align myself with those who claim it bastardized their childhood.