“I’m Too Old For This Shit.”

We don’t really go for the inspirational Christmas films in the St. George household. For instance . . .

lwposter

Yeah, it’s totally a Christmas movie.

DISCLAIMER:

Spoilers. I’ve been doing a lot of reviews with spoilers, lately, and I should probably stop doing that — but it’s not going to be today because, let’s face it: this movie was made in 1987, it has three sequels, and if you don’t know that the bad guys die and the good guys win, you probably don’t know very much about action movies in general.

SUMMARY:

Family Man Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is paired up with Suicidal Headcase Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Their first case? Solving the murder of a young prostitute — and taking down a group of well-connected drug smugglers while they’re at it.

NOTES:

1. Can I just say . . . this is the most ridiculous premise ever?

Don’t get me wrong — I love Lethal Weapon. I grew up on this movie, and it’s one of those films that I’d hate to see Hollywood remake because, really, what would they do? I mean, they could change the tone of it, make it darker or grittier or something, but . . . you know, why? Better to just write a whole new story for that. And this is pretty classic as far as buddy cop action movies go . . . I have a hard time seeing anyone improving it with a modern update.

But honestly . . . we have a possibly suicidal cop on our hands, and our solution is to promote him to homicide?

mel crazy face

Hire me! I’m totally the guy you want talking to victims’ loved ones and solving bloody murders!

I know the Chief doesn’t actually believe Riggs is suicidal, but I’m generally of the opinion that even people who might be suicidal probably shouldn’t be working with guns — and even if he was trying to score some insanity insurance cash — how, exactly, is working in homicide as opposed to narcotics going to change that? And what do you even employ a department shrink for, if you’re not going to listen to her? (Although, admittedly, Shrink Lady does use the words “suicidal” and “psychotic” like they’re synonyms, so maybe she’s not the best shrink in the whole world. Still.)

It’s hard to see this as a good move in either direction — we’re either heaping more pressure on an unstable guy by forcing him in a new, potentially grislier department with a new partner who hates him, or we’re basically rewarding him for his shitty, greedy ways — because from every cop movie I’ve ever seen in my life, being a homicide detective in a police force is like being one of the coolest kids on the playground ever.

2. Shrink Lady, by the way, is played by 80’s Veteran Small Part Actress, Mary Ellen Trainor —

mary lw

— who was also in such notable movies as The Goonies, Romancing the Stone, and Kuffs. (Okay, so Kuffs is actually early 90’s and probably isn’t very notable to anyone who isn’t me. Still, I like that movie. It’s Slater before his career went all to hell and has a very young Milla Jovovich, before she became a B-movie action heroine. It’s sort of refreshing, actually.)

(EDIT: She’s also in Die Hard, of course, which I can’t BELIEVE I forgot to mention. Thanks, Kirsten, for the heads-up.)

In movies, psychologists either seem to be Deeply Insightful Godsends or Foolish People Trying to Bring a Good Man Down. In Lethal Weapon, Shrink Lady is clearly one of the latter and will continue to be for the rest of the series.

3. Also, what I said about not remaking Lethal Weapon? Still true, but if you just absolutely had to remake it — let’s cut out some of that homophobic humor, shall we? There actually isn’t too much of it, but a couple of the lines are pretty awful. Like when Riggs refers to the idea of two women sleeping together as “disgusting.” That was pretty standard quo for the 80’s, I guess, but it’s a different world now, and some changes are thankfully for the better.

4. There are three villains to concern yourself with.

4A. Will Riker’s Daddy

general

Will Riker’s Daddy — or General McAllister — is the Big Boss Man but not particularly menacing standing next to his right-hand man, Mr. Joshua. This is probably why he dies first. (I kind of like the way he dies, though. Trapped in a car with a grenade about to go off — you’d be making some shrieky, desperate sounds too.)

B. Mr. Joshua

top10_mrjoshua

There’s something about referring to your villain as ‘Mr’ that automatically makes the character sound more villainous. At least, it’s a working theory, based on Mr. Chance (from Plunkett & Macleane), Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar (from Neverwhere), and of course, Mr. Joshua. Gary Busey is fun in this. I miss those good old days where Gary Busey was scary without being, you know, SCARY.

C. The Best Henchman from Die Hard

182-11054

You know, the one who really likes Crunch bars.

Okay, Al Leong is in this movie for about four minutes, if even, but he’s just one of those 80’s small-time icons — I had to pay tribute. In Lethal Weapon, Leong’s the guy who electrocutes Riggs for a while. He’s also the guy Riggs refers to as “the Chin” — so yeah, this movie’s a bit less PC than I remember it being.

(Also — and just as an aside for, er, diehard Die Hard fans — Special Agent Johnson {Grand L. Bush — my God, that’s a truly awful name} is in this for about two minutes too. He’s not a villain, though. He’s the cop that tells Murtaugh about his new partner. Sadly, Special Agent Johnson {the other one, Robert Davi} does not make an appearance.)

5. This is probably the first movie I ever saw Danny Glover in.

danny-glover-lethal-weapon-movie-1987-photo-GC

Actually, there’s a good chance that this is the first movie I ever saw any of them in — but I point out Danny Glover in particular because when I think of him, this is always the first movie that comes to mind. Also, while Murtaugh is just turning fifty when this film starts, Danny Glover was only forty when it was filmed. I mostly find this amusing because Riggs spends the whole moving calling Murtaugh an old man, but Gibson’s only a decade younger than his co-star.

By the way, in case I forget to mention it later — one of the reasons this movie works as well as it does? Gibson and Glover’s natural chemistry. All their scenes together are fun — I’m particularly a fan of Glover’s little nervous breakdown while driving. (“Fifty years old; what a birthday; goddamn fifty years old; been on the force twenty years, not a scratch on me, not a scar; got a wife, kids, a house, a fishing boat, but I can kiss all that goodbye because my new partner has a death wish; my fucking life is over.”)

And whether you buy into their emotions or not — man, these two are going for it. Mel Gibson’s whole face goes red when he’s angry, and the veins on Danny Glover’s neck look like they’re going to pop at any second. (Also, his voice gets really low, like absurdly low, when he yells. It’s actually a little funny.)

6. By the way — while it might be different for boys — I don’t want anyone to sing me happy birthday and give me presents while I’m in the bathtub. The bathtub is private time. Cake and presents generally come when I’m dressed, thanks.

7. This movie begins with some holly jolly Christmas music that quickly transitions into something a bit darker when a young woman jumps off a building.

This is Amanda.

This is Amanda.

I might complain about the fact that of course Amanda is topless when she jumps out of her window — I mean, who doesn’t walk around her place with covered feet but exposed breasts — but to be fair, we do get to see Mel Butt, so. It’s not like there isn’t some nudity on both sides of the equation.

[I do not have a picture of Mel Butt for you. This is a family friendly blog, for godsake!]

8. It’s not a big wonder I like this film, of course. I mean, other than being a sucker for the buddy cop movie, Lethal Weapon was directed by Richard Donner and written by Shane Black. Donner’s directed some pretty awesome movies — The Omen, Ladyhawke, Maverick, The Goonies — and Shane Black wrote Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which is just one of my most favorite things ever. (Here’s to hoping, Iron Man 3!)

And of course, what would Lethal Weapon be without . . .

9 . . . that angsty 80’s sax.

Mek and I can’t watch this movie without chiming in with that angsty 80’s sax.

Also, you know who worked on this movie’s score?

eric unplugged screencap_0

Yeah, Eric Clapton. See, you do learn things every day. (Even if they’re things that are totally irrelevant to your everyday life.)

10. Michael Hunsaker (Tom Atkins) is yet another prime example of why you never stand in front of a giant open window.

tomatkins

Also why you shouldn’t drink eggnog. Eggnog leads to death!

Even as a small child, I was like, dude, move away from the fucking window, you assclown. 

11. I’m feeling lazy and skipping over all sorts of good scenes we could be talking about — but we can’t skip over a couple of things. First, briefly, let’s at least mention this scene . . .

. . . and just be very, very clear that there’s no way Martin Riggs wouldn’t have been fired on the damn spot. Okay, maybe not on the spot, but definitely shortly afterwards. Come on. Seriously. He controlled the jump my ass — he forced a civilian off of a building; he’s done. It doesn’t matter that this is the most annoying suicidal guy ever known to man. I’m  may not be a cop, but I still feel pretty confident about this.

But, you know, Riggs can make pretty pictures with bullets . . .

lethalsmiley

. . . so to hell with the rules. He’s a keeper.

12. All this, however, might be slightly less ridiculous than the ending. Oh, the ending.

Okay, so here’s how the final fight goes down:

Riggs and Murtaugh beat Mr. Joshua to Murtaugh’s home. They have time to set up a clever little ‘fuck you’ note to Mr. Joshua, which they plant inside the house. What they apparently don’t have time for? To warn the two cops stationed in front of Murtaugh’s home.

These cops aren’t alarmed at all when Mr. Joshua comes by . It’s not like he gets the drop on them. He just casually drives right up to the car before saying a quick howdy and killing them. I’m sure the cops knew that they were stationed there for something, but apparently, they didn’t get a suspect description — and it’s not like Mr. Joshua is that hard to describe. (“So . . . if I see a six foot tall menacing albino in the vicinity, maybe I should be on guard? Cool. Good to know.”)

Pressing on. So while Mr. Joshua is inside the Murtaugh’s home, snooping around and shooting up innocent televisions, Murtaugh and Riggs distract him by sending a car through the living room wall. And while I know that the element of a surprise is a big deal in a fight . . . is this really the only way we could think to get the drop on Mr. Joshua? I hope it doesn’t cost a lot of money to, you know, rebuild your house or anything, Murtaugh.

Then we could just arrest Mr. Joshua — but what fun would that be? Instead, Riggs offers him a chance at the title as they try to kill each other on Murtaugh’s lawn.

LethalWeaponfight

A few things:

A: Who says Riggs holds the title anyway? I’m not sure it’s his to offer. I mean, I’m just saying.

B. While this is totally ridiculous, at least Murtaugh is shown to repeatedly be holding off other officers while saying that he’ll take full responsibility for what happens. Considering Mr. Joshua is a cop-killer, I can see some people bending the rules for a beatdown . . . although I’m not sure this extends as far as murder. So, you know, probably a good thing Riggs doesn’t go with Murtaugh’s suggestion to “break his [Mr. Joshua’s] fucking neck,” or Murtaugh would be taking on a whole lot more responsibility than initially figured.

C. One of my least favorite ways for a bad guy to die: the good guy has the chance and the motivation to kill him but decides not to — because he’s a better person and revenge is wrong and the bad guy is just “not worth it” and blah blah blah. But then the bad guy gets a gun or otherwise puts everyone in jeopardy again, and so the good guy is forced to kill him anyway.

And — blah. This is a cheap cop-out, Lethal Weapon, and I hate it in every movie I’ve ever seen it in.

D. Oh, oh, one more thing: in the denouement, Riggs is still all beat up because, you know, Mr. Joshua was one tough motherfucker. Murtaugh, on the other hand, looks fine, and while we don’t know exactly how long these last scenes take place after the fight with Mr. Joshua — he did get rather beat to hell himself, not to mention shot in the shoulder. But, you know. Everyone knows a bullet to the shoulder leaves no lasting damage.

13. Finally, some quotes:

Murtaugh: “See how easy that was. Boom, still alive. Now we question him. You know why we question him? Because I got him in the leg. I didn’t shoot him full of holes or try to jump off a building with him.”
Riggs: “Hey, no fair. The building guy lived.”

Mr. Joshua: “Well, our problem, and yours too, is we have a shipment of merchandise to deliver.”
Riggs: “Why don’t you guys just call it heroin?”
Mr. Joshua: “It’s rather large, this shipment. It would be unfortunate, however, if we showed up to deliver our heroin, and we were surrounded by fifty cops.”
Riggs: “That would be too bad.”

Murtaugh: “Saved my life. Took a bayonet in the lungs.”
Riggs: “That was nice of him.”

Murtaugh: “Piece of cake. Now I’m happy. You go read him his rights, and I’ll stand here, being happy.”

Murtaugh: “God hates me; that’s what it is.”
Riggs: “Hate him back. It works for me.”

Murtaugh: “You sure?”
Riggs: “Yeah, I’m sure, man. I never forget an asshole.”

CONCLUSIONS:

Some ridiculous moments — okay, a lot of ridiculous moments — and a few unfortunate lines, but this is the quintessential buddy cop movie, and I love it. One of my favorite Christmas movies — although not quite as good as Die Hard.

MVP:

Mel Gibson

TENTATIVE GRADE:

A-

MORAL:

Suicide is bad. Also, if you’re going to be a part of a nefarious operation, totally make sure to name it something cool like SHADOW COMPANY!

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12 Responses to “I’m Too Old For This Shit.”

  1. Puss in Boots says:

    I CANNOT READ THE REVIEW

    BECAUSE I AM TOO BUSY DYING

    OF LAUGHING AT THAT FIRST PHOTO OF GIBSON FREAKING OUT

  2. Claire says:

    My husband got into an argument over which movie is more Christmasy= Lethal Weapon or Die Hard. He argued that Die Hard had an more inspirational message and uplifting ending which was more in the Christmas spirit, while I argued that Lethal Weapon has more direct references to Christmas. I may be biased though-I first saw Lethal Weapon in seventh grade and my family love all the movies, but none of us our into Die Hard and I didn’t see it until college.

    I also first saw the director’s cut of Lethal Weapon (well the first half of the movie-I was staying up last working on a school project), and now I can’t watch the regular version without it seeming to miss scenes.

    • That’s interesting. I’ve never wondered which movie is actually MORE Christmas-y before. My initial gut reaction is to agree with your husband (sorry), but not for any real logical reason, just nostalgia. I grew up on both movies, and I like them both, but if I didn’t see Lethal Weapon for whatever reason during the holiday season, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Whereas I always watch Die Hard. Always.

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen the director’s cut of Lethal Weapon. Traditionally, I’m not a big fan of director’s cuts, but I do know that the first version of a story that you see/read is usually the one you like best. Or at least that’s how it works for me, nine times out of ten.

      • Claire says:

        I suppose I think I Lethal Weapon as more Christmasy because I can’t remember any direct references to Christmas in Die Hard, other than it being Christmas Eve. While with Lethal Weapon it has Christmas references in some very memorable places. It plays Christmas music at the beginning, and Riggs is watching Looney Toons Christmas cartoons while he considers shooting himself. And it ends with him giving a Christmas present.

        I think the Lethal Weapon director’s cut is worth watching once, but only for the first one.

        • When I watch Die Hard on Christmas, maybe I’ll look out for specific references. Offhand, all I’ve got for you is “It was the night before Christmas and all through the house not a creature was stirring except . . . the four assholes coming in the rear, standard two-by-two cover formation.” 🙂

  3. Kirsten says:

    I CANNOT believe that you went through the whole thing about Mary Ellen Trainor as the Shrink Lady AND DIDN’T MENTION THAT SHE’S GAIL WALLENS IN DIE HARD. You fail!

    And for the record – Die Hard is a way better movie, but both are Christmas classics. 🙂

    • ACK! I KNEW I was missing an important one! I KNEW it. I even went to imdb to figure it out, and my eyes must have scanned right over Die Hard. Dammit. When I’m less lazy, I’m going back to edit that review. Total fail. Crying in the corner in shame. No Christmas presents for Carlie 😦

  4. Becky says:

    Murtaugh: “Piece of cake. Now I’m happy. You go read him his rights, and I’ll stand here, being happy.”

    I love this quote. Makes me laugh every time. 🙂

  5. Teacups says:

    I know you’re not super interested in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but I just saw an episode which devoted 10-15 minutes to the gang’s homemade version of Lethal Weapon 5, and there’s also a later episode about Lethal Weapon 6. Given your Lethal Weapon love, I thought you might want to know that those eps exist?

    Now I feel like I need to watch Lethal Weapon to fully appreciate the parody, but I still found it funny, so that’s a good sign. Although some of the camerawork bothered me. It seemed too tricky for a few regular people with no experience in filmmaking, especially given how poorly it’s turned out whenever they’ve had to use a video camera before. Like, there were some shots that looked like they’d been done with a crane, there was one where the camera was apparently attached to the bonnet of their car… I haven’t seen any of the LW movies, so I guess this was the sort of stuff I focused on. I haven’t seen the second LW episode though.

    The first spoof is in Season 6, Episode 9 “Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth,” and the second one is in Season 9, Episode 9 “The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6.”

    Once I’ve watched Lethal Weapon and gotten through Season 9, I’ll come back and update how the second parody episode went, and how they both stand up having seen the source material.

    • That’s good to know. I might have to try those ones out. Thanks!

      (You’ll have to tell me what you think about Lethal Weapon if you watch it. I do love it, but I also grew up on it. It’s a bit hard to be objective about your nostalgia movies, sometimes.)

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