If you want to get a nostalgia gleam in a Gen-X kid’s eye, just mention Flight Of The Navigator.
A movie that probably is more than a cult classic but less of a full-blown classic, it was one of those movies that people remember fondly but isn’t exactly huge at the convention circuit.
The star of it, Joey Cramer was an up and comer and probably could’ve broken out as a member of the brat pack. His life took a very different route. Lisa Down’s — friend of the site– newest follow up from her excellent Life After Flash documentary with this look into Joey’s life after the movie. I was pretty blown away watching it.
I won’t get into the gritty details but suffice it to say, his life has been hard. Much has been of his own making and much has been of his parents. What I found most illuminating is the various people who worked with him on the movie all assumed he was another child star who grew out of his cute phase and wasn’t able to get work and never could handle it. It would be an easy assumption to make, it’s a common story from a lot of former child actors.
But not Joey. Joey’s issue is much deeper. His mother, an old hippie from the early ’70s decided she wanted a kid and didn’t want a husband. The man she picked had no interest in being a father. There’s a definite case to be made of how important a father is in a child’s life. Joey’s story of how he once finally called his dad to try to get some kind of connection only to be told to kill himself is heartbreaking. His mother cared but she really had no idea of what was going on with him.
Joey’s life spiraled out of control with drugs, crime, and homelessness. He didn’t really care about being a famous star, he just felt an overwhelming sense of rejection that damaged him from a very early age. Even while working on Navigator he was stealing, something no one who worked with him on that movie even suspected.
Downs puts together an extraordinary story moving deftly back and forth between interesting tidbits and behind the scenes moments of the movie to Joey’s life after. It does have a good ending, at least I hope. Joey’s story isn’t done yet but he seems to be on the right path. I was memorized watching it. I had no idea how bad it had gotten for him.
It’s easy to read a headline, shake your head on how they wasted their opportunities, and go back to whatever is going on in your own life. This goes so far beyond the headlines and really helps you empathize with the entire story. I can’t recommend it enough.
You can currently buy it on Amazon and directly from the site here. I would imagine it will end up on streaming in the coming months.