July 19, 2012

LETHAL WEAPON: Details No One Cares About

Starring Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Mitchell Ryan. Directed by Richard Donner. (1987, 110 min).

When I was in college - the first time - I lived in a small dorm with a roommate, Kyle, chosen for me by the housing director. I was kinda lucky, because Kyle’s parents saw fit to provide him with a fridge, VCR and TV during his stay. This was back when all three were total luxuries for college students who didn’t have a silver spoon crammed up their ass...which was most of us.

I was also lucky because Kyle was, for the most part, a nice guy, and liked to party on weekends. At that point, I was partying every night, which lead to a few arguments, especially when I’d bring girls to our room. Still, we became pretty good friends during my stay, mostly because I was over 21 and he wasn’t, meaning I could score him booze whenever he wanted.

Despite how college is depicted in movies, life in dorms is usually pretty dull, especially on weekends. This was a small town and there wasn’t a hell of a lot to do. Me, Kyle and some buddies would often grab a few cases of beer, rent a movie and spend Friday night getting shitfaced in our room. One of the guys who seemed to be there every weekend was a pudgy, red-headed guy whose nickname was Blinky, and he looked like that fat, sweaty, horn-blaring kid who tags along with Indy during the intro to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Blinky was going for some sort of engineering degree, and I’m sure he now makes more in a month than I do in a year.

He wasn’t exactly one of my buddies - I thought he was self-righteous, smarmy & abrasive - but being classmates with Kyle, Blinky always seemed to be around. What I remember most was he insisted on drinking wine coolers instead of beer, so whenever it was up to me to secure the booze, I had to make sure I picked up this asshole’s Matilda Bays.

Anyway, during one of those weekends, we picked up Lethal Weapon, which had just been released on video. The movie, of course, is the quintessential buddy-cop film which spawned legions of imitators in ensuing decades. Mel Gibson plays a psychotic cop whose suicidal tendencies make him fearless during stand-offs; Danny Glover is his suffering partner, a straight-arrow family man on the verge of retirement. Like every similar movie which followed in its wake, they hate each other at first, but during the course of the story, become best friends while taking down a nefarious bad guy.

Of course, it goes without saying that Lethal Weapon is to police work what Star Wars is to space travel. If the movie truly reflected reality, we'd be sitting through Internal Affairs hearings and psychological examinations of Martin Riggs, both conducted to get this psycho-with-a-badge off the streets. But I do not care if a movie is scientifically accurate or a scene is logistically plausible; if it's any good, I'm more-than-willing to play-along for two hours. But some people aren't...like Blinky.

Halfway through the movie (and our first case of beer), when Mel Gibson informs Danny Glover that a hooker’s recently-exploded house was detonated by some “heavy shit” known as a mercury switch, Blinky recalled his own technical knowledge and piped in with, “Mercury switches are nothing. We use those in my electronics class. They aren’t heavy shit. How stupid.”

I shot back with, “Well, Blinky, the average person ain’t gonna know that, so why don’t you shut the fuck up.”

He simply beamed back with a superior-than-thou expression, like we were all stupid for enjoying the movie because he knew about mercury switches and we didn't. To this cooler-chugging engineer, mercury switches may not be heavy shit, but the rest of us couldn't care less.

We all know someone who enjoys pointing out inaccuracies as though every movie should be the cinematic equivalent of 60 Minutes. And those who do this in the middle of a movie are assholes. That’s like watching a cartoon in a theater filled with kids and shouting, “Yeah, right...like mice can talk.”

Hey, raise your hand if you truly care that they didn’t play night games back when Roy Hobbs shattered those stadium lights with a grand slam home run in The Natural...

...or that a bus couldn’t logistically make the leap from one end of an unfinished bridge to the other in Speed...

...or that the screaming Tie-Fighters in Star Wars wouldn’t realistically make any sound at all, since space is a vacuum...

...what? No?

That's because you’re not a pretentious jackass trying to show off your knowledge of facts nobody gives a crap about. I don’t watch Lethal Weapon movies hoping for a chemistry lesson. I wanna see gunplay, car crashes, explosions, wisecracks and maybe a boob or two. Lethal Weapon had all that and not once did I give a damn whether or not a fucking electric switch was heavy shit.

So, if you’re reading this, Blinky, I hope you've since-learned to shut your hole. If not, I’ll bet your family hates going to the movies with you.

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