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Warning: Porg spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi are in play. If you don't want to know anything more than these creatures are adorable, then bookmark this page and come back once you've seen the film.
The dust has started to settle on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as years of anticipation have yielded a film that's generated intense discussion regarding what it is to be a Star Wars film. But there's one subject that's yet to be discussed thoroughly, and it might be one of the most important points of order that needs addressing. After a good year of the Star Wars machine hyping up the lovable creatures we know as Porgs, we have to ask, were they worth all off the hoopla?
In the opinion of this writer, yes indeed they were. What started to look like just a new merchandising craze for the kids, inspired by the puffins of the Skellig Michael shooting location that doubled for Ahch-to, the Porgs actually managed to find a comfortable niche in the Star Wars galaxy. The little winged creatures, brought to life through a mix of CGI and practical puppetry, managed to generate quite a few laughs in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but also didn't get in the way of the proceedings.
Rather, the humor involving the Porgs manages to be based only partially on their cuteness, with the rest of the gags occupying a middle ground between Buster Keaton-esque comedy and just plain old humorous happenings. All the while, there's not a sense that these characters are weighing down the story, because they aren't forced into any scenes or subplots that derail the narrative at large. More importantly, the inclusion of the Porgs sees this latest entry in the Star Wars saga continuing to operate by one of the series' most time tested rules: fun creatures help keep the movie going.
Without the Porgs, Star Wars: The Last Jedi would be a more dour affair than it already is. And with a tradition of comic relief running throughout the series, even in its darkest hours, there's a precedent set for creatures and droids lightening the proceedings. It's probably why the Porgs were so hyped up in the first place, as they represent some of the most recognizably Star Wars pieces of the franchise's legacy. But while past creatures of ill repute like Jar Jar Binks and the Ewoks have been accused of scene-stealing in the past, the case is not the same for the Porgs. If you've been waiting to see the Porgs in action but worried that they'd weigh the film down, fear not.
In fact, the only plottery that the little beasties seem to be involved in, besides some smaller bits inserted in other scenes, is a running gag with Chewbacca. As we see the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon ready to chow down on roasted Porg, a pack of them watch on in horror as he's about to tear into his meal. Eventually, one of their numbers cozies up to the Wookie, to the point where the most harm he'd visit upon a Porg is knocking them to the side during the Falcon's diversion to the First Order's TIE Fighters on Crait. Since the creatures are so small, they could have very easily been thrown in through various scenes on different planets as a sort of easter egg / sight gag, but what you see in the trailers is basically what you get. If you're still having flashbacks to Jar Jar Binks appearing in The Phantom Menace trailers, you can safely put those to the back of your mind.
Overall, there's a lot of aspects to Star Wars: The Last Jedi that make the film a subversive masterpiece. Rian Johnson's treatment of the Porgs is one such element, as it takes the trope of the cute and marketable (yet ultimately disruptive) Star Wars creature, and makes it into something that stays true to the franchise. They may not be integral to the plot and could very easily be taken out of the film, but they do serve the ultimate purpose of preserving one of the most valuable Star Wars traditions. And considering how many of those traditions this film manages to break, that's the Porgs provide a sense of comfort. In the end, all of the fun and warmth of the best creatures in the galaxy are represented in the Porgs. So the hype you have in your head is very much what you should be expecting when you see the film.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is currently in theaters, with all of the Porgs that you could want to see on the silver screen.