Here’s a few thoughts on the role of humor in the ‘Hal9000 fan edit’ version of the Star Wars saga so far, in light of accusations of a perception of my TLJ edit as “No Fun Allowed” which was presented to me.[I don’t plan to mess with the OT beyond merely hybridizing the various official versions of the film, and perhaps a decidedly limited inclusion of a handful of other things, such as Adywan’s ESB Emperor scene (though even then it is merely sprucing up a SE alteration).]
ANH is an earnest story which makes use of ‘fish out of water’ and character-based humor throughout, with R2 and 3PO taking much of this on. The story is told in a ‘straight’ manner, with the humor being derived from the characters. (No fourth wall breaks.)
ESB is a bit darker and more contemplative overall, with its humor continuing to derive from characters, new and old. 3PO is almost completely played for comedic relief, all of which is consistent with his established characteristics. The same sort of dry, character-driven humor present in ANH continues on as well. The dramatic moments of the film are played straight, and each sequence has a consistent tone.
ROTJ is where humor starts to become more campy, for better or worse. Within the bounds of our ‘sacred trilogy,’ ROTJ sets the far end of the humor goalpost with Ewoks, Salacious Crumb, burping Sarlacc, and observational humor Solo. The film is able to achieve dramatic elevation at important moments, and the humor, while not everyone’s cup of tea, does not infringe of these for the most part.
In COD, my edit of TPM, the humor is reigned in, though consciously allowed to remain a characteristic part of the movie. I’d say it does not venture as far as ROTJ, though enough is there to round out the otherwise dry plot. There’s less humor, to be sure, but I think what remains functions in a more palatable way overall.
In TAS, my edit of AOTC, a great deal of the “humor” has been removed, falling into the category of pure cringe IMHO. I’m thinking of anything 3PO does after entering the droid factory, for example. The end result is a more serious tone for the film, with less cringey, laugh in disbelief style humor. However, it leaves the film less distinct, with a ‘sink or swim’ attitude on the part of this editor, and it is either received by a viewer as more or less effective, depending on how it functions without these crutches.
LOE, my edit of ROTS, has a similar treatment applied. Moreso than AOTC, ROTS reached for dark, dramatic sequences and a darker overall tone. This seemed to mix poorly with moments of very cartoony humor, so I attempted to even out the tone by cutting down on both the silliest bits of humor and a couple over-the-top dark moments. The end result is the darkest, least funny film of the bunch. This one will also stand or fall based on its effectiveness, which is very much open to debate, without relying on cartoony humor.
TFA:R doesn’t really change anything related to humor. TFA itself is a decidedly fun romp, with its humor typically being derived from its characters, which lent it a feeling of Star Wars authenticity. It might have gone a little too far in a few places, but seems to be well within the goalpost set by ROTJ, and a return to form by mostly effective and appropriate use of humor.
TLJ’s humor struck me as problematic at several points. As a microcosm, consider the spaceship/iron gag. It’s a genuinely fun and funny moment, though is a hard stylistic break from all prior Star Wars films, and is the sort of thing usually found in a parody. Removing this joke from TLJ:L ought not to be inferred as disliking the joke, but as part of an attempt to lessen the tenacious ‘deconstruction’ the film engages in from beginning to end, and to cohere with the other seven films to date. The same goes for the Caretakers, whose only role in the finished film is to break the fourth wall. Much of the film’s humor comes at the expense of Star Wars and its fan’s expectations. I’m not opposed to this in principle, though very much believe less would have been more.
TFA and TLJ’s humor is more pervasive and blended in than any of the prequels’. If one were to attempt to remove the majority of their humor in the same way I did with the prequels, they would suffer and not be nearly as successful overall. I recognized this and didn’t care to mess with TFA in this regard, for similar reasons as ROTJ. The humor I toned down for TLJ was in the interest of lessening the film’s constant meta commentary in order for what remains (including the deconstruction that remains) to telegraph good faith and be more easily received by its ostensible audience. In other words, to craft an edit I wish I could send back in time to myself at the time of the film’s release. A gift from me, the one who has digested and wrestled with the film’s views and come to appreciate it, to the other me, the first time viewer who couldn’t help but feel confused and insulted.