I made my first foray into movie criticism one evening in 1982 as I walked out of an Asheville strip mall twin theater with my Mom, Dad and two sisters. "That was the worst movie I've ever seen in my life," I declared. The unearned certitude I displayed that evening turned into a family joke, but poor Tron didn't have many partisans in those days.
But that was then. Today, 1980s nostalgia is on the upswing, and my fellow 6th grade nerds are supposedly raking in the big bucks working on computers for a living. Naturally, that cash needs to be invested in preserving the priceless cultural totems of our youth: that Commodore 64, those Infocom games (I was a Zork man) and of course, those great arcade quarter-eaters: Galaga, Defender, Battlezone, Donkey Kong, Q-bert, Ms. Pac-man and the arcade version of Tron (which was so much better than the movie).
Indeed, at the time, Tron was ballyhooed as the first movie for the video-game, home PC generation (we were just starting to get our Apple IIs then). After being laughed off the screen as an inept attempt to glom onto the youth geek market, Tron went gone on to achieve a kind of cult respectability. As clumsily faddish as the film may have seemed at the time, its creators knew more than we did. In today's post-Matrix universe, we accept ideas of shared consciousness with our computers and of course we're completely inured to the wall-to-wall computer-generated F/X that Tron championed.
There's an official Tron fan Web site now (www.tron-sector.com) which contains announcements of autograph signing appearances by people associated with the film (though Jeff Bridges seems to have trouble finding time for them). I haven't seen the film since the night I declared it to be the worst film of my life, but in the 22 years since, I've seen many films that dive far more deeply into the sea of awfulness with no redeeming backsplash of nostalgia.