The over-praising of The Fabelmans among mainstream media types…what is there to say except “what else is new”? We’re all familiar with the industry-wide instinct to kowtow to the lore of Steven Spielberg-directed films…a syndrome that’s been locked into the psychological Hollywood bloodstream for several decades, as natural and inevitable as a mountain stream or even the weather.

It’s not that The Fabelmans is a bad film — of course not! It’s a fairly good one in several respects, but you also have to qualify this with a sensible “yes, okay but calm down.” I’ve said this two or three times, but a truly fair-minded, non-obsequious opinion would have to acknowledge that the saga of Spielberg’s teenage years (mostly Phoenix, some Saratoga) is neither boring nor hugely interesting. It’s diverting in an on-the-nose, broadly performed way, but it mainly boils down to “decent with three pop-throughs — the Judd Hirsch rant, filming the Nazi war flick in the Arizona desert, and John Ford lecturing 17-year-old Steven about horizon lines.”

Face it — that’s what The Fabelmans is. It’s not a put-down to call it “good enough” or “reasonably decent.” And Matt Patches is correct — the major roles (including Ford at the end) could have been eccentrically performed by Eddie Murphy in white-person makeup.

Chris Evangelista is also spot-on about The Fabelmans 2. I would truly love to see Spielberg’s struggling years at Universal dramatized — Amblin, directing that Night Gallery episode with Joan Crawford, SS bonding with his “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls” colleagues, filming Duel and then The Sugarland Express.

This would have to be followed, of course, by The Fabelmans 3, which would cover the glory years of ’74 through ’82 — the making of Jaws, Close Encounters, 1941, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T..