Friday, June 6, 2008

"Nuked the Fridge" Enters the Pop Culture Lexicon

When I saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there was one scene in particular that left me scratching my shiny, clean-shaven dome long after leaving the theater. When Indy ends up in the middle of a nuclear test site in the Nevada desert, he seeks refuge in a refrigerator, which protects him from the atomic explosion that sends him rocketing hundreds and hundreds of feet from the blast zone. You see, the fridge was lined with lead, protecting the aging archaeologist from radiation and, apparently, saving him from the bodily harm one would naturally associate with icebox air travel.

This scene was the first—and not the last—moment of the film where the viewer can do little but shake their head and wonder what George Lucas and Steven Spielberg hoped to accomplish by including such a ludicrous and ultimately pointless scene. It was the Indiana Jones series' "jump the shark" moment, threatening the audience's suspension of disbelief along with the integrity of the piece as a whole. But "jump the shark" is such an archaic phrase, ushered in when Arthur Fonzarelli jumped over a shark on water skis in a 1977 episode of Happy Days. Over 30 years later, a new term was born. In 2008, the Indiana Jones series officially "nuked the fridge."

Don't get me wrong, I thought Crystal Skull was a fun movie, and was just as good as the previous Indiana Jones sequels. But I cannot defend this fridge nuking scene, and neither can the folks at Nuked the Fridge who describe the term as:

" expression, similar to jumped the shark, used by movie fans and critics alike to denote the point in which a film or television program veers off into the realm of the ridiculous and stupid. It is a moment that the story being viewed stops becoming believable, and becomes so over the top that any reaction other than laughter is impossible. Laughter in the 'we are laughing at you, not with you' sense. This is also the point of no return for the said movie or film franchise, as there is no way to steer it away from the disaster it has become. In the case of a successful and popular film franchise, it is the moment where the viewer wishes the film makers had stopped at the previous film and left well enough alone."

Harsh, yes, but also hilarious. Check out their movie news and reviews here.

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