There are fanboys and then there are Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos and Jayson Lamb, a trio of Mississippi buddies who spent the summer of 1982 — and their next seven summer vacations — filming a shot-for-shot remake of Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Their obsessed exploits have been affectionately chronicled in “Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made,” a documentary that’s just as fixated as the guys’ slavish adaptation.
Back when the “Raiders!” boys embarked on their quest, at age 11, in the backyards of their Ocean Springs, Mississippi, homes, there was no Netflix or YouTube, but that didn’t prevent them from painstakingly re-creating the blockbuster, save for one complex sequence.
Their story didn’t end there. Turns out that videotaped dubs of their unfinished opus had been passed around over the years, with one eventually making it into the hands of filmmaker Eli Roth, who proved instrumental in reuniting the old team.
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Overwhelmed by that cult response, Zala and Strompolos, now in their 40s, are determined to finally shoot that one missing sequence — this time relying on a Kickstarter campaign to fund the special-effects-heavy, nine-day-shoot.
Keeping tabs on that rain-plagued production, co-directors Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen incorporate insights from Roth, John Rhys-Davies (Sallah in the Indy movies) and family members suggesting that long-term escapism provided a catharsis for kids dealing with divorced parents and other issues, aligning them more with “The Goonies” than Indiana Jones.
Though indulgently overlong, “Raiders!” manages to unearth the inner geek in all of us.
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
☆☆☆☆out of 5
Directors: Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen.
Cast: Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, Jayson Lamb, Eli Roth, John Rhys-Davies.
Running time: 1:44.
Rated: Not rated.