Before Patrick Read Johnson did special effects on V, 2010: The Year We Made Contact and Warlock, wrote Dragonheart and directed Spaced Invaders, Baby’s Day Out, Angus and The Genesis Code, he was a kid in Wadsworth, Illinois who made his own movies and dreamed of a Hollywood he was sure he would neer get to. Thanks to his mother setting up a trip to Hollywood to meet Douglas Trumbull, he was one of the first people outside of Industrial Light and Magic effects experts to see Star Wars.
His real life experience is what 5-25-77 is all about, obviously a passion project about the past and the power of film that took eighteen years to make.
John Francis Daley plays the younger version of the actor, a kid who only cares about school as much as he does getting to read the announcements with his friend Bill (Steven Coulter) and make backyard films like Requiem for the Planet of the Apes. When his mother (Colleen Camp!) sends him on a trip to meet American Cinematographer editor (and almost every writer) Herb Lightman (Austin Pendleton). He also falls in love with Linda (Emmi Chen), which makes him consider leaving behind his dream of making movies and may keep him behind in Illinois.
This is an incredibly visually inventive movie that perfectly sums up the creative desire to do more and mean more than where you come from. It’s quite inspiring and speaks to a time before we got multiple Star Wars properties every year, when films seemed more special and perhaps even life changing.
Despite the time it took to make, it was worth it. The performances by Daley, Camp, Chen and others elevate this film and make it all at once bittersweet and inspiring. This is one of the best films I saw in 2022 and you owe it to yourself to get it.
The MVD blu ray of 5-25-77 has audio commentary from Johnson, moderated by Seth Gaven, founder of the A.V. Squad and editor of the film Spaced Invaders, a Q&A from the 2013 Fantasia Film Festival with Johnson, trailers and photo galleries. You can get it from MVD.