Indy Jones, fridge replace Fonzie
LOS ANGELES — Harrison Ford doesn’t tell Shia LaBeouf to “Sit on it.” Nor does Cate Blanchett’s slinky Soviet come running when the crusty 65-year-old hero snaps his fingers. But with the 19-years-in-the-making sequel Kingdom of the Crystal Skull still in theatres, the question is curiously apt: Is Indiana Jones the new Fonzie?
Apparently so. What other conclusion is there now that “Nuked the fridge” may soon surpass “Jumped the shark” as the catch phrase of choice to describe a once-beloved franchise that has spiralled into such preposterousness it will never recover?
A brief recap for those of you with lives: During the opening sequence of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Ford’s intrepid archeologist-adventurer finds himself on ground zero at a secret nuclear test site.
Faced with imminent atomic doom, our newly-minted senior citizen ducks into a lead-lined fridge — he’s in the middle of simulated suburbs populated by mannequins — and is blasted who-knows-how-far as everything else in range is logically decimated.
Miraculously — or simply because, like Jar Jar Binks, story architect George Lucas thought it was a neat idea — Jones survives, tumbling out of the household appliance unharmed by the mushroom-cloud-sized explosion and radiation-free. (If only Bruce Banner had hopped into a beer cooler before those gamma rays turned him into a rampaging green-skinned goliath.)
Although the Steven Spielberg-directed sequel earned mostly positive reviews (mine included) and has amassed $300 million at the North American box office, nastier-than-thou fanboys and bloggers retaliated the only way they know how: By inventing a ridiculing viral lingo. And thus the term “Nuked the fridge” was born, a reference to — and replacement of — “Jumped the shark” which harkens to the 1970s sitcom Happy Days.
Back then, fans were stunned into disbelief by an episode in which Henry Winkler’s leather-jacketed rebel, strapped to water skis, spends his Hawaiian vacation jumping a Great White. Ever since, “Jumped the shark” has been invoked to describe a series that has careened well past its prime. (Most recently Lost jumped the shark in Season 2 only to rebound or “reverse jump the shark” this past year.)
Although “Nuked the fridge” is barely a month old, it’s already become an Internet sensation, popping up on message boards, online reviews of other movies and cultural catch-all YouTube. It’s even gotten its own url (nukedthefridge.com) and been named “Word of the Day” on urbandictionary.com recently.
According to the latter site, “(Nuked the fridge) is used to denote the point in a movie or movie series at which the characters or plot veer into a ridiculous, out-of-the-ordinary storyline. Films that have ‘nuked the fridge’ are typically deemed to have passed their peak, since they have undergone too many changes to retain their initial appeal, and after this point critical fans often sense a noticeable decline in their quality.”
The site goes on to name several other examples of franchises that nuked the fridge, we just didn’t have a phrase for it then:
* Star Wars: “Jar-Jar Binks says ‘Ex-squeeze me.’ ”
* The Matrix: “When 100 Agent Smiths attack a CGI Neo spinning around on a pole.”
* Spider-Man: “When Peter Parker turns Emo and starts dancing around a bar.”
As for how Lucas, Spielberg and Ford reacted after learning their sequel has contributed so dubiously to the lexicon, we can only imagine. As The Fonz himself might have said: “Heeeeeeeeey.”
Indy Jones, fridge replace Fonzie