I don’t know how, where or when I became aware of a documentary called Life After Flash. I do remember very vividly that I had an urge to watch it right away. It was a story about Sam Jones and his life after the 1980 classic film Flash Gordon. I enjoyed the documentary and was eager to learn about the company who made it. LIFE AFTER MOVIES is a production company that wants to celebrate the same films I loved, plus take us on a journey into a reality we have never really seen on screen before. It was on their site that I became aware of Life after the Navigator. Not only was Flight of the Navigator one of my favourite films of the ’80s but I was also curious about the life of Joey Cramer. In 2016, a 42-year-old Joey Cramer was arrested in connection with a bank robbery in Canada and it soon became breaking news across the World.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first sat down to watch this documentary. However, I did notice its polarising themes right away, only because Joey Cramer’s story is so powerful and overwhelming. Plus having reviewed Flight of the Navigator a couple of months ago, I already knew some of the background stories. Still, if you don’t know about the films creation and the people involved, it was quite the achievement and definitely worth the time if you are a fan. It was interesting listening to Mark H. Baker talk about his original screenplay for the film called Vanished. The story came from a dream and had a more mature storyline, and I would love to read that version.
Randal Kleiser is as cool as a cucumber on screen, and his respect for the craft of filmmaking is inspiring. He could have cashed in on the film’s cult status with a sequel, but he respects the legacy of the film and I have to agree with him. And finally, the concept drawings by Edward Eyth which always make me smile. Just absolutely beautiful work and I’m not surprised Randal Kleiser hired him on the spot.
There is a lot of new information about Flight of the Navigator that I would like to talk about, but that isn’t the reason why I wanted to write this review. I don’t think I can call it a review, more of a recommendation and my thoughts on the life of Joey Cramer. Like the rest of the World, I was shocked when I first heard the news about Joey Cramer’s arrest in 2016. It’s not the first time I have heard of a tragic story involving a child actor, but this felt different for some reason and I never really understood why? After watching the documentary and letting sit with me for a few days, I think I finally understand it now.
The Flight of the Navigator was one of those films that made an huge impact on me as a child, it was a world you wanted to believe in at that age. Growing older, you realise that reality is a lot tougher. I’m not here to talk about my troubles but I have struggled in certain areas of my life and overcome them in my own way. Over the last decade or so, things have become better and I’m happy with the person I am and value my persistence in not giving up.
Getting back to Joey Cramer and why I was shocked after his arrest? I hadn’t really watched the film since childhood and not heard his name since then. I guess it’s hard to describe what I mean but as I was going through my troubles in life, he was doing the same. I guess I just assumed his life would be a great one. Unfortunately people who are going through difficult times feel the same about other people’s lives in general. I think it was just the realisation that everyone of us goes through some kind of crisis, at some point.
Just a Quick Warning!!!! This documentary does include some discussion about drug abuse and self-harm. I didn’t know much about Joey’s life till I watched this documentary but he has suffered more than I could have ever imagined. I’m not going to go into much detail about his past either because if you are curious, you would enjoy watching it more. However, I will say that Director Lisa Downs manages to visualise his rehabilitation perfectly. Joey Cramer spent years of his life feeling worthless and drugs helped him avoid that pain. Throughout the film, you can see the moments that help shape him that way and without pointing fingers, I can see why. Joey Cramer must have had a good amount of wealth in his early days but money has no value if you are suffering. If you have no respect for those things and are looking for an answer in your next needle, you will find yourself living under a bypass, which he eventually did.
Joey Cramer was sent to the Guthrie House Therapeutic Community Program, and then he finally started to find his place in life and learn to love himself again. I mean it’s pretty simple to talk about a 90-minute film, but the years of hell this man had been through must be completely overwhelming. It’s pretty easy to guess that drugs can cause people to do terrible things to others and all that guilt can also make any recovery more difficult. All I can do is give my Joey Cramer my respect for getting through all that, because his battle must have been far more difficult than anything I have ever faced. I said earlier that money must have had no value to him, and there is one scene that made me realise that Joey Cramer had arrived and is ready for a much more rewarding life. Joey is staying in an apartment why he is waiting to get released, I think? Where he’s located has no meaning though, but it’s a tiny apartment, and he tells the camera about three items he has with him. One is a small rug from home, a plastic cat for good luck and a photo of his mum and his daughter. To him, those items are priceless and he cherishes their meaning to his life. It’s pretty simple but you just need to appreciate the small things. It’s just that small shift in perspective that can change your life in a big way. These are just are some brief observations and I do understand that a lot of hard work, dedication and support helped Joey Cramer rebuild his life. I’m just happy he had the chance to tell his story and enjoy his life again.
Like I said earlier, I have left a lot of moments and stories out of this because I hope it’s worth your time to watch this story for yourself. I think the documentary would have worked fine with his story alone, but I guess the original film is the selling point. I also think it would be easy to criticise the people he had around him in his life, but I’m not really that person and always try to look at the positives. My favourite moment comes from Howard Hesseman as he talks about his addiction and recovery. He comes across as a smart, intelligent person and then he says “I’m not a psychiatrist, just a former drug user”. He is probably the one man in the film who can understand Joey’s struggle the most. I just thought it was a very powerful moment.
Thank you for reading. If you like the sound of this documentary then please go and support Joey Cramer and Life After Movies.
LIFE AFTER MOVIES | Film Production Company
Flight of the Navigator, 1986. My Journey into Science-Fiction Part:20. – Who’s more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him? (talesfromtheneonbeach.com)