Through Grown-Up Eyes

Filed under:Movies,Reviews — posted by Anwyn on June 10, 2008 @ 10:27 pm

The trouble with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is that it’s not a farce, yet parts of it are completely unserious, and it’s not a horror movie, but parts of it are pretty much the most terrifying things I would ever deliberately watch. As a kid I used to think the scenes in Pankot Palace were merely disgusting, but nowadays the juxtaposition between the serving of the monkey brains and live eels and the discussion of the horror-inducing Thuggee cult is just ridiculous–and looks even more so when followed by stomach-turning portrayal of the rituals of the cult. Both Raiders and Last Crusade manage to bring the funny without whanging us over the head with it. But Ford is magnificent, as he was in all three, and even the miscast Kate Capshaw, admittedly with horrible lines to work with, in certain scenes gives a perfect performance as a squidgy, helpless companion while the classic Indy booby-traps roll down on our heroes. John Williams’s music is even a cut above. But then the whole thing degenerates into dark, dismal un-Indy again as they capture and drug Jones, to be wrenched back to good heroics in their escape and restoration of the children to their village.

Uneven, heavy-handed, difficult to watch–but still Indy.

P.S. Short Round was the brightest spot in the whole film. Jonathan Ke Quan is three years older than me and has had quite a varied career.


  1. As disturbing as it is, the monkey brain scene is not as ridiculous as you think. My parents spent 2 years in Bangkok in the mid-70s. On one of thier few evenings out (I was born there, so they usually had some annoying screaming/pooping machine occupying their time), they were forced to leave a restaurant because they were too disgusted to eat.

    Apparently, my Mom commented when they arrived that the hole in the middle of the table reminded her of some casual seafood places in the US, where you throw the discarded shells (crab, shrimp, crawfish, etc) into a bucket that is set into the hole. To their horror, they later discovered that the table not only had a hole in the center, but also pulled apart so they could clamp a live, screaming monkey into the table, with just its head poking through the hole. They then passed out hammers to the dinner guests seated around the table and allowed them to kill the monkey theselves, at the table, to ensure the freshest possible brains. My parents left immediately, without payng, and switched back to American food for a solid couple of months.

    Apparently, at least in the 70s, it was an accepted practice and the brains were considered to be quite a delicacy, only to be eaten by the uber-wealthy and only on spcial occasions…

    I know that my Thai nanny fed me food that she prepared for herself, so I can only assume I had a steady diet of dog and cat. But, my parents were very explicit in their instructions to never allow me to eat monkey brains.

    Comment by Chuck Foxtrot — June 11, 2008 @ 6:16 am

  2. Aieeee.

    I wondered whether that scene had any basis in reality but didn’t do much of a search.

    Comment by Anwyn — June 11, 2008 @ 7:24 am

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace