The second review of the day comes from someone who I have just recently became blogging friends with: The Craggus. The Craggus is one of the writers from What the Craggus Saw. They have a lot of great articles so be sure to check them out. The Craggus joins the blogathon with a review of the 1980s action flick Lethal Weapon. Instead of me blabbering on, let’s get right to it.
Dreaming Of A (Shane) Black Christmas
Christmas in July, you say? Well, there’s really only one filmmaker you can turn to if what you need is a little touch of Yuletide cheer in an otherwise balmy (and preferably Californian) climate: Shane Black, writer of six Christmas-adjacent movies (and director of three of them). No word yet on whether his upcoming “The Predator” will feature a nod to the festive season but given the trailer features Halloween, I’m going to guess not (unless the new Predator is particularly patient in his hunting).
His first script is perhaps the best example of why Black has been so fond of including the festive season as a backdrop to his violent, irreverent and freewheeling action black comedies. “Lethal Weapon” (1987), directed by the legendary Richard Donner, opens with an iconic and shocking suicide-themed opening, all the more jarring thanks to the jolly soundtrack choice of ‘Jingle Bell Rock’.
Rejuvenating and redefining the buddy cop genre, Black’s razor sharp script finds abundant energetic life in the perfectly cast ‘too old for this shit’ Murtaugh (Danny Glover) and kerr-aaaazzzy Riggs (Mel Gibson). The pairing of a dangerously unstable loose cannon with a weary, days from retirement veteran became an instant trope, often imitated but rarely equalled thanks to the chemistry of Gibson and Glover.
While Christmas is used thematically to illustrate and underline Riggs’ loneliness and isolation following the death of his wife, it’s also used as the shorthand for his eventual redemption which sees him join the Murtaugh family for a family dinner in a cosy Christmas coda as well as providing amusing backdrops for the action (which comes thick and fast) such as the coke-fuelled Christmas Tree lot shootout. It’s the constant thematic reminder of family and belonging that edge this movie far closer to being a genuine tale of a Christmas miracle, the only difference being it happens subtly in the background while the ballistic thrills and spills of a violent drug trafficking plot take up all the action. Christmas is the solid green spruce upon which Black drapes the tinsel, lights and baubles of sex and violence.
It’s quite unfair to reduce Black’s work to festive frippery when his trademarks are really: sharp dialogue, savage action and a darkly irreverent sense of humour but given that last one it’s little wonder he’s so fascinated by the idea of pairing mayhem with the most wonderful time of the year. It may have later become a gimmick, for sure, but one never quite so well realised and integrated since, “Lethal Weapon” remains his one true Christmas movie, rather than one which happens to be set at Christmas. Suck on that, “Die Hard”.
Lethal Weapon is one of my personal non-traditional Christmas films so it is great to see it as part of the blogathon.
Now I bet you are wondering who Craggus has decided to invite to our spectacular party? It is none other than Black Widow herself: Scarlett Johansson!
ScarJo has been on my short list of invitees for the last few years. I’m happy she finally gets to make her appearance at our yearly shindig.
And that’s it for day one of the Christmas in July Blogathon! Tomorrow, a regular collaborator of mine joins in the blogathon. Be sure to come back to see their unique entry.
Until next time, cheers!