Over seven years, three teenage boys from a small town in Mississippi used all their free time and limited resources to film a shot-for-shot adaptation of Steven Spielberg’s 1981 mega-hit Raiders of the Lost Ark. They played roles, cast their friends, built props and nearly burned down a house. By the time the film was complete, in 1989, they had endured miserable adolescences and were no longer speaking to each other. A quixotic project, it more or less went on a shelf of home movies. But it surfaced years later on the video-swap circuit, as these things do, and attracted enough attention that the gang decided to reunite in 2014 to finally film the one scene they left out — the Nazi plane exploding.
Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen’s doc cuts between archival behind-the-scenes making-of footage, contemporary interviews with participants, and the various trials that unfold filming the exploding-plane scene. It’s fun for film fans and highlights the kids’ admirable commitment to completing a project ; there’s also a bittersweetness to revisiting the past, particularly as the now middle-aged “kid filmmakers” explain how making the film was an escape from troubled home lives, and how leading adult lives turned out to be not as exciting as they’d hoped.