Movie Memories: Lethal Weapon I-4

Leathal Weapon (1987)
So, I'm watching TV at work the other night and I stumbled across a Lethal Weapon Marathon.  It really took me back in time.  I can recall each Lethal Weapon movie and what was going on when I watched it.  Here's my Lethal Weapon movie memories.

Lethal Weapon hit the silver screens in March of 1987.  It was the number 1 box office draw for three weeks in a row and reinvented the modern cop buddy film.

You would think that being the movie lover that I am (and getting a huge charge out of Mel Gibson in the MAD MAX movies) that I would have been all over this film. Inexplicably, I could have cared less to see this movie at the theatre.  In my opinion, cop movies were a dime a dozen. I was much more into science fiction, westerns, and classic horror films at the time.

I didn't see Lethal Weapon until it had been on VHS for quite a while.

An old friend of mine from Pratt, Kansas came down to Chetopa where I lived at the time for a visit. I met Lee in middle school when my dad pastored a small church in Caney, Kansas.  Lee's dad was a pastor too.  Lee and I were both PKs and we had several classes together.  Our friendship was fairly immediate although we were about as different as two people could be.  Lee was very athletic and had two things on his mind from sun up to sun down: sports and cars. He was great with his hands, even as a kid but anything from a book might as well have been from Mars to him.
I was the opposite of that, for sure.  If I wasn't picked dead last for any sport you could think of-then something was terribly wrong. The only thing about cars I dug was that it could take me to the movies or the library. I could've cared less how they did what they did. Show me an engine block and I'd be sawing on my own wrists with a butterknife in a matter of a few minutes.

By the time Lee came down with his parents for a few days we had something else in common. We were both freshly out of  high school and we were idolizing anything on the screen that presented an illusion of quintessential manliness. You know, anything that seemed like it would be cool to emulate.

When we decided to go to our local dinky video store I immediately tried to sell Lee on various Clint Eastwood movies.  He wasn't interested. All of the Chuck Norris flicks were rented out. I was feeling bummed.  Lee suggested we watch the new Mel Gibson movie, Lethal Weapon. Well, there wasn't much else and it DID have MAD MAX in it.  So, we rented Lethal Weapon, bought some munchies and took the goodies home.

Seems funny now but we actually had to wait until our parents went to bed so that we could watch the movie! My parents and Lee's parents were uber strict about what we watched.  Profanity, sex, violence...just about any damn thing that made a movie fun to watch was greatly frowned upon.

So, I remember Lee, my sister, and me all gathered around the tv trying to watch Lethal Weapon and not let the volume be loud enough where anyone else in the house could hear the F*cks, and Damns, and hells and other words being screamed by Mad Max.

I was sucked into the movie right away. It was MUCH MUCH more exciting than I thought it would be.  I was drinking Pepsi and munching chips at warp speed. The more the bullets and fists flew the faster I ate chips....until....I noticed something very, very odd.  I was laying in the floor-something I did for many many years when I was watching movies and tv-and Julie and Lee were sitting on the couch...sitting really freakin' close to each other! And lee had his arm around my sister's neck.  OH MY GOOOOOD!!!  LEE liked my little sister. OHHHHHH NOOOOOOooooOOOOOOooooo!  OH MY GOD! THATS JUST SO WRONG! That's definitely against the best friends rule right there!  No getting crushes on your friend's sister! GROSSS man!  I tried to pretend to ignore it but it bugged me the whole damn movie. Besides, she was already seeing another guy!

The big finale with Riggs fighting Gary Busy had both Lee and I boxing the air and cheering Mad Max on! Get him!  KILLL HIMMMM!  TAKE HIM DOWN!

Lethal Weapon was quite an adrenaline rush.  After the movie Lee and I walked over to the High School and shot a few baskets in the dark. We wound up talking about High School days and school yard fights and girls we were crushing on.

I always think of Lee when Lethal Weapon comes on cable or I pop the DVD in. That visit was a lot of fun. Shortly after that Lee moved. Then I moved. We lost contact. I've seen his parents a time or two over the years.  Heard he's doing well.

Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

Lethal Weapon 2 debuted on July 7, 1989.  I believe it was the following Tuesday night that my sister Julie, my friend Rusty and I filed into the old Parsons Theatre to watch Riggs and Murtaugh work their magic on the big screen for the second time.

Lethal Weapon 2 is by far my favorite of the entire series. Leo Getz as portrayed by the always cool Joe Pesci had me in stitches from start to finish.  Gibson and Glover were fantastic in this installment.

I really don't have a story concerning the viewing of Lethal Weapon 2 other than I remember Rusty mainly came along because he had a crush on my sister.  What was it with all of my friends?  One minute they liked me...the next minute they liked my sister more. hahahhahaha.

Lethal Weapon 3 (1992)
Ahh,  Lethal Weapon 3. How could I ever forget watching this movie? Believe me, I've tried and it wasn't because of the movie's many shortcomings.

I enjoyed Lethal Weapon 3. It was a considerable step down from LW2 but such is the way of sequels, generally speaking. The interactions between Riggs and Murtaugh were still more than worth the price of admission-and hey, throw in Leo and plot shmot! Who needs a discernible plot when "The magic is back again!"

I watched LETHAL WEAPON 3 as part of a triple feature playing at the Wichita Starlite Theatre. The other two movies were BATMAN RETURNS and WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP.  I watched these movies alone, on a drive in park bench, soggy from intermittent rain, after being unceremoniously dumped there during a "date" that went all kinds of drastically wrong.

How wrong, you ask?  I went to Wichita with this psycho woman with the understanding that we were going to some kind of science fiction convention. You know where we wound up?  A swingers party.  I kid you not. I couldn't make something that stupid and that convoluted up. After refusing to join in the "festivities" I was given the choice of either getting back home any way I could or waiting until she (who had unfortunately driven us up there) was done with her thing.

As I debated how I could possibly have gotten mixed up in a deal so freakishly retarded and how I was gonna get myself home we passed by the Wichita Starlite Drive-in.  I said, "Whoa! Stop the car!  You can just let me out here!" And so she did.

Unfortunately for me, it rained off and on all night. Imagine how soggy my popcorn got!

I could (and did-but erased it several times) relate the whole miserable account of that very memorable Saturday night but that's a long blog for another time. haha.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)
Lethal Weapon 4 rolled around in 1998. By that time the franchise was 10 years old and had spawned a bazillion lesser knockoffs. It had the unfortunate effect of making the last Lethal Weapon seem like a retread too when in fact it had been the template.

It was great to see "the gang" once again but it also drove home the point of just how DONE the series was. Martin Riggs character arc was more than completed by the end of Lethal Weapon 3 and Murtaugh never had much of a one to begin with so we were left with little more than a bunch of jokes about how they were "getting too old for this sh*t" and that was about it.

I saw Lethal Weapon 4 with my sister and brother in law at the old theatre in Joplin beside SEARS.  We just about didn't get a seat. I remember the theatre being very crowded that night.

Over the ensuing years I've heard sporadic rumors about "one more" Lethal Weapon movie, especially after Mel started going off the deep end and his status as huge star began to tarnish. Thank god that another movie hasn't come to pass.  I think we'd all be well advised to consider the fate of other sequels that were finally made a decade or more after the public lost interest in a franchise.  Indy 4, anyone? Sometimes you just have to let movie characters go and be thankful for the handful of GOOD films that particular franchise produced.

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