Yesterday morning I was greeted with this rather remarkable piece from the Los Angeles Times. I recommend a read, but briefly: at a press conference to promote Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, which has been garnering mixed reviews, co-star Shia La Beouf went nuclear on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, saying that he regrets the project and his performance in it:
You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on [Spielberg]. But the actor's job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn't do it. So that's my fault. Simple.
But his harsh words weren't directed only at his own work. He said that the movie didn't fool intelligent fans of the series, that Harrison Ford wasn't happy with it either, and that Spielberg needs to know that "when you drop the ball, you drop the ball."

LaBeouf is obviously entitled to his opinion of his own films. And I suppose the candor is refreshing -- though his reference to people trusting him when he promotes a movie suggests that the kamikaze attack on Crystal Skull may be at least partly self-serving. ("I know you think Indy 4 sucked, and I agree, but believe me on Wall Street, won't you?") But given how rarely stars badmouth their own work in public, LaBeouf's tone could fool one into thinking that he's talking about a universally acknowledged disaster on the scale of Battlefield Earth.


Which Crystal Skull most assuredly is not. Its Tomatometer rating is a muscular 77%. It garnered positive reviews from Roger Ebert, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Time Magazine, and the Washington Post (not to mention Cinematical). It was the third-biggest film of 2008, grossing over $300 million domestically -- a fact the LA Times post nods to almost reluctantly. And maybe more to the point: it's pretty damn good -- fun, energetic, and in the spirit of the series.

A less charitable interpretation of LaBeouf's comments is this: even those who liked the film didn't have a lot of positive things to say about his performance as the young whipper-snapper to whom Indiana Jones may or may not have been passing his fedora. So, whether or not they were meant this way, his words now read kind of like an attempt to deflect that criticism toward the film itself. Not too classy.

On the other hand, I wonder if the consensus on Indy 4 has in fact soured since its release. If so, I might have to write up an actual defense of it one of these days. It really, really is pretty good.