Die Hard (1988)


Now I Have a Machine Gun.  Ho Ho Ho.

Die Hard (2012)I found myself at a loss on Christmas last year.  I felt like I should review a Christmas movie, but I wasn’t really able to think of any Christmas movie that I liked in any real way.  So, in lieu of a Christmas movie, last year I reviewed the Harry Potter series.  Small parts of those movies take place on Christmas.  This year I really thought about it.  What is my favorite Christmas movie?  I considered the Grinch, I considered Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and I of course considered Jingle All the Way, but none of those really stood out.  And then I thought of it.  A movie that takes place on Christmas and always fills my heart with cheer.  There could be no greater Christmas movie than Die Hard, based on a novel by Roderick Thorp, written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, William Atherton, Hart Bochner, Alexander Godunov, De’voreaux White, Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush, and James Shigeta.

On Christmas Eve, NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives in Los Angeles with hopes of reconciliation with his wife, Holly Gennaro (Bonnie Bedelia).  McClane is greeted by a limo driven by Argyle (De’voreaux White) and is taken to Nakatomi Plaza, where Holly is attending an office Christmas party.  While McClane changes in Holly’s office, the festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his heavily armed group of goons, with intentions to steal $640 million dollars in bearer bonds from the vault.  Turns out that there’s only one person in the world oozing with enough badassitude to stop these guys, and he’s shoeless in the building’s duct system.  Yippee Kay-Yay, mother fucker.

This movie has well earned its classic status.  This is a fantastic Christmas movie.  And a fantastic action movie as well.  I guess most people would probably be more comfortable calling it an action movie, but it takes place in Christmas times, there’s some Christmas music in it, and McClane writes “Ho Ho Ho” on a corpse in the movie.  I think I rest my case.  And I don’t think it’s even worth bothering to argue this movie as an action movie.  I think I actually appreciate this type of action movie more than most others in some ways just because of the main character.  As much as I like a good, over-the-top, superhero action movie, there’s something special to a movie about a regular, everyman kind of character overcoming insurmountable odds with nothing more than some ingenuity and some massive balls.  John McClane is just what a man should strive to be.  He’ll fight terrorists and walk over glass barefoot just to do what’s right, even if it isn’t technically his problem because he’s way out of his jurisdiction.  And he keeps that mentality even if the LAPD that should be helping him is so ridiculously stupid that one should be more surprised that they got their shoes on the right feet when leaving the house in the morning than the fact that they weren’t willing to help McClane.  The FBI came off like frat boys that just wanted to shoot something and the Deputy Chief of Police was so dumb that I half expected him to be occupying himself in the background with a paddleball like Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles.  The look of the movie worked much better than one might expect from an 80’s movie, even if the look of people getting shot can most closely be compared to someone throwing Jell-O squares at people’s chests.  The action is also always enjoyable, and rarely too far away.  Once the movie gets started with the action, it doesn’t get sidetracked any more than it has to.

What is there to say about the performances?  Bruce Fucking Willis.  The end.  Bruce Willis is so amazing in this movie that I find it difficult to put it into words.  He plays the everyman very well; almost as well as he plays the badass.  He seems just as comfortable with a wry comment as he does with an SMG.  Alan Rickman could also be well-served with having his middle name replaced with “fucking.”  He’s exactly the badass villain to counter the badass hero that is John McClane.  He’s charming and intimidating, sometimes simultaneously.  Bonnie Bedelia wasn’t the biggest part of the movie, but I found that what she did had some resonance.  She seemed like exactly the kind of tough chick that would attract a John McClane, while also being the kind that wouldn’t put up with his shit, and also exactly the kind that would eventually get divorced from a John McClane.  Reginald VelJohnson is also very likeable in this movie as the one member of the LAPD with a heart and a brain.  They also had two fantastic douche nozzle performances in this movie from Hart Bochner as Harry Ellis, the douche druggie who’s scheming on McClane’s lady, and William Atherton as the piece of shit reporter who doesn’t understand where to draw lines when involving people’s families into stories.  I had prior history with Atherton as I already hated him so much from his time in Ghostbusters, but I think Bochner might actually take the douche crown from him in this movie.  I was very surprised when anyone in that office was at all a.) surprised that his scheme would eventually get him killed and b.) saddened when he died.  My reaction would probably be more along the lines of, “Yeah, well that’ll happen, I suppose.”

I’m well aware of the fact that there is no point in reviewing a movie like Die Hard.  Everyone has had more than ample time to find out that this movie is awesome.  I really only chose to review it as a Christmas present to myself.  The story isn’t the most spectacular thing ever, but it’s probably upper echelon when compared to typical action movies, and there’s not a lot more satisfying than being able to relate to the hero of your movie because he’s just a regular guy, but then choosing not to pay attention to the fact that you would be nowhere near as awesome if you were in the same situations.  Great movie.  Watch it.  Own it.  Merry Christmas.  Die Hard gets “You throw quite a party” out of “It’s gonna need a paint job and a shit load of screen doors.”

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Ghostbusters (1984)


When Someone Asks You if You’re a God, You Say “Yes”

Allow me to pose a query to you.  Assume, for a moment, that you are in the area in which you live.  Suddenly, you notice that something rather peculiar is happening there.  You have only your cell phone with you and 1% left on the battery life; time only to make one call.  Given all of this information that I have given you, to which group of people will your call be most efficient?  Today’s movie!  A lot of my movie reviews happen at the behest of someone else; either through requests or simply my thoughts about which movie could I most make fun of to entertain the people that read these.  Today’s movie was at my own behest.  What caused me to behest myself was a video playing on one of the TV’s at my job.  I was only able to see bits and pieces, and was able to hear none of it.  And since I love this movie, I needed to watch it.  That movie is Ghostbusters, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, directed by Ivan Reitman, and starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Slavitza Jovan, William Atherton, David Margulies, Alice Drummond, Steven Tash, Jennifer Runyon, Rhoda Gemignani, and Michael Ensign.

Three parapsychologists are called in when a strange occurrence happens at the New York Public Library.  Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) is already on the scene by the time Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) and Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) arrive.  Venkman immediately begins grilling the spooked librarian (Alice Drummond) to see if she’s just crazy or not.  Relatively assured that she actually may have seen something, the trio go to investigate, quickly finding that there is, indeed, a ghost.  They then run for their lives.  Egon feels that the readings he took could allow them to capture such spirits and this gives Venkman a business idea.  Unfortunately, as Ray points out, they already have jobs…or do they?  Nope, they’ve been fired.  So they go into the ghostbusting business, purchasing a retired firehouse as their base of operations.  At first, the only client they have is a woman named Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who claims to have seen eggs cook on her counter and a creature in her fridge.  The only thing that really comes out of that is Venkman’s immediate – and unrequited – love for Dana.  Then, their receptionist, Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts), gets the call that the Sedgewick Hotel has a ghost problem.  Capturing this ghost rockets them into stardom, making them so busy that they have to hire a fourth Ghostbuster, Windston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson).  But when the strange occurrences start to elevate for both Dana and her neighbor, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), the Ghostbusters have to get involved, and may just have to save the world.

Let us cut through the formalities and just get right to the nitty gritty.  I hate this movie.  I hate this movie because of how damned awesome it is.  It has no right to be so great in every way!  It makes the rest of us look bad!!  OM to the G this is a great movie.  I would go so far to say this is one of my favorite movies ever.  Let’s talk story first.  Now, it’s been well documented (by myself) that I love ghost movies.  I love ghost everything, for that matter.  I certainly love these ghosts things more than most people who have never seen, and are skeptical about, ghosts.  Next to ghost movies, another one of my favorite things in movies is comedy.  Either the combination of my loves made Ghostbusters one of my favorite movies, or Ghostbusters made me love good comedies and ghost movies.  Who knows?  The story itself in the movie isn’t that spectacular, it’s the comedy and the performances that bring a good story to great stature.  And the look is amazing too.  I assume there was a certain degree of budgetary concerns to this movie, but everything looks great.  Granted, New York City has a great look to it already.  The stone lions in front of the library, for example.  They were already there, but you would have to use them.  They have a great look for a ghost movie.  Dana and Louis’ apartment was also well done.  If I remember correctly, it was a real apartment in New York that they added a section to the top of digitally because most buildings don’t have Gozer-gateways on the top.  The gargoyle that comes to life looked mostly great, but there were parts where the limits of the time made it stick out.  The ghosts looked pretty good though, like Slimer and the librarian ghost from the beginning.  They’re reminiscent of the ghost style used in Poltergeist.  Worked great there, works great here.

The performances are what really make this movie work for me.  And I would say that it is mostly one performance that stands out and simultaneously made me love that actor forever: Bill Murray.  Every moment he is in this movie, he’s doing something that makes me laugh, even on my 50th viewing.  Love Venkman, love Murray.  The second best performance would have to be the hands that popped out of the recliner to grab Sigourney Weaver, ’cause one of them grabbed himself a whole handful of Sigourney boob.  But both Sigourney and her boobs performed well in this movie.  She mainly acted as the straight-woman to Bill Murray’s craziness, but she did it very real, acted terrified as hands were groping her and she was being pulled into her closet, and shifted gears completely as she was inhabited by Zuul.  She also was still well within hotness in this movie, even with the 80’s perm.  I personally dug more on Annie Potts though.  Something about that nerdy little girl does it for me.  Even with that voice.  Rick Moranis was, perhaps, a bit over the top as his uber nerdy character, but got a nice dose of crazy to him when he was inhabited by Vinz Clortho, the penis to Sigourney’s vagina or, as they called it, the keymaster to her gatekeeper.  I went on a tangent and almost forgot about the rest of the Ghostbusters.  I would say my second favorite Ghostbuster would have to be Harold Ramis as the eccentric, nerdy scientist Egon Spengler.  He was pretty funny and I relate to him because I too collect spores, molds, and fungus.  Dan Aykroyd was the heart of the Ghostbusters, playing Ray as a kind of dopey but sweet guy.  I also like thinking about William Atherton as the douchebag from the EPA that fucks everything up.  I mainly like thinking about him because he could be the nicest guy, but I’d want to punch him in the mouth because of his character in this movie.  Such a douche and he gets the Ghostbusters arrested because HE fucked everything up.

One of my favorite movies, Ghostbusters combines a good story, fantastic performances, hilarious comedy, and a great look to make itself an epic win.  It holds up every bit today as it did back in ’84.  The only thing dated in this movie is the music, but it’s still enjoyable so that’s not a negative.  It’s just clearly 80’s music.  If you haven’t seen this movie, there’s something wrong with you.  If you don’t like it, I don’t like you.  If you don’t own it, I don’t own you!  Oh, that’s wrong.  Either way, go buy this movie already.  It’s amazazing.  Ghostbusters gets “We came, we saw, we kicked it’s ass” out of “Dogs and cats living together … MASS HYSTERIA!”

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