Category Archives: Die Hard

Trading Places: A Christmas Classic Worth Celebrating

Black Friday has passed, but Americans still need something to fight about. Christmas has arrived, so fighting over the best Christmas movie seems like the logical next step.

If you are fighting the War On Christmas Movies, you probably fall into one of five camps:

1. Your Favorite is “It’s a Wonderful Life”: That means you have probably watched all of the AFI List specials.

2. Your Favorite is “Home Alone”: You grew up in the 90s. Also, you have a thing for setting up booby traps in your house.

3. Your Favorite is “A Christmas Story”: You will watch it during the entire 24 hour block that runs on TBS on Christmas Day. Also, you’re probably Jewish and couldn’t convince anybody else to go see something in theaters that day.

4. Your Favorite is “Die Hard”: You understand that “Die Hard” isn’t a Christmas movie in a traditional sense. But you don’t care, because you are way too cool for school.

5. Your Favorite is “Jingle All The Way”: Haha we get it. You like being ironic and you probably own a pair of bacon socks from Urban Outfitters and also you’re probably me.

However, I would like to stage a coup, and add a sixth film to the battle. Would anybody care to join me on Team “Trading Places”?

Okay, “Trading Places” isn’t the most traditional Christmas story. Like “Die Hard,” Christmas is more of a backdrop rather than front and center. But the holidays are an open and inviting time, just not for your drunk uncle who won’t stop talking about Obamacare.

In “Trading Places,” two rich old men with too much money and time on their hands want to settle the nature vs. nurture debate once and for all. So they find their lab rats in the form of stock broker Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd) and homeless criminal Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy). Louis finds his money, safety, and sanity all gone. Billy Ray, meanwhile, ends up with millions. The way in which this all transpires is actually quite brilliant and elaborate. Along the way, you’ll get a glimpse of a young Giancarlo Esposito, and way more of a glimpse of Jamie Lee Curtis than you probably ever expected.

“Trading Places” came out in 1983, and is one of the best comedies of the 1980s. It is part of the trend of 80s comedies about how entertaining it is to make fun of the country club crowd. It has been playing on Comedy Central a lot lately, and it gets much better after multiple viewings. It contains some of the best work from all of its stars. It is also a sad reminder that Eddie Murphy was once one of the funniest people on the planet. “Trading Places” is a bit different from the likes of “Caddyshack” and “Ghostbusters.” A lot of jokes fall through the cracks upon a first viewing. It has a much drier sense of humor than most other mainstream American comedies of that time. Well, now that I think about it, watching all three of those movies back to back right now would be pretty awesome.

Anyway, “Trading Places” might be dark for a Christmas movie, but it still embodies the holiday spirit in a way that no Christmas movie starring Tim Allen ever could. “Trading Places” is a film about a bunch of completely different people coming closer together to defeat a common enemy. Who ever thought a businessman, a hobo, and a prostitute could get along? Well, the holidays are a time to put aside your differences and revel in warmth to escape the cold, dark winter.

While you might not have wanted your Christmas movie of choice to feature a lot of talk about whether or not man is good or evil, maybe you might want one where all the Scrooges get screwed to put you in a good mood. It’s nice that the moral in the end is that sometimes, stock fraud is okay.

Plus, if you wanted a good reminder of a few of the racist jokes you might hear during the holidays, look no further than Aykroyd’s blackface. It’s pretty offensive, but also really funny. It’s a forgiving time of year. So you can be forgiven for laughing at it.*

*You can still laugh at it any other time of year. In fact, the great thing about “Trading Places” is that unlike other Christmas movies, you are still legally allowed to watch during any time of the year that you want.

Discovery of the Day: Movie-A-Minute

For those of you unfamiliar with all the beauties of the Interweb, it has provided the world with a wonderful invention called StumbleUpon. This site allows you to choose from a set of interests and based on those interests, sifts through the entire web and finds sites that pertain to those interests. Needless to say, its the most interesting and informative procrastination tool currently available online.

So far, I’ve stumbled upon sites that tell you the psychological aspects of color, and other sites that generate random facts at the click of a button. Strangely, I’ve been most impressed at a site that combines two categories I’ve subscribed for: Movies and Humor. The site is titled Movie-A-Minute.

Movie-A-Minute doesn’t look like it’s out there to impress anyone. It’s format is free of modern day graphics. It might as well have been started in 1997. However, Movie-A-Minute is a triumph of substance over style.

The basic premise of Movie-A-Minute is that it rounds up various movies, good and bad, and condenses their entire plots into a dialogue that lasts under a minute. Here is a sample one from “Die Hard”:

Alan Rickman

Har har har.

Bruce Willis

Grunt sigh moan grunt holler yell sigh wince groan cringe grunt.

(A chair BLOWS UP. Then the elevator BLOWS UP. Then a room BLOWS UP. Then the building BLOWS UP. Then the entire universe BLOWS UP. But the badguy STILL ISN’T DEAD YET. Then the badguy dies.)


The above sample doesn’t just encapsulate the movie’s story in two sentences, it also encapsulates just about any action movie that has been popular during the last 25 years, as does the entry for “Armageddon.”

Some of the other highlights from this site include the “Lost in Translation” entry, which mocks the fact that that whole film has come to be defined by about five seconds of footage, and the David Lynch films entry, showing the typical inexplicable insanity of his mind in such a hilarious way.
While some of these entries are pretty mocking, others just seem to be having good fun. I mean how could anyone actually hate on “The Godfather” or “The Lion King?”

Movie-A-Minute seems like a hilarious online trend I’d have expected to reach the masses a long time ago. Yet, this site seems both too obscure, and way more intelligent than anyone could ever give it credit for.

In fact, this site seems perfect for a generation who’s attention span is supposedly shrinking more and more thanks to the multi-tasking provided by the Internet age. With no one seeming to have anytime to sit down and watch a full movie these days, Movie-A-Minute is there to both hastily fill us in on a movie, make fun of a movie, and then make fun of us for not actually sitting down to watch the whole thing.

Side Note: In order to stay relevant, I would like to announce that today Anne Hathaway and James Franco were announced as co-hosts for the next Academy Awards. I can’t say anything too bad about the decision, seeing as Franco is hilarious (and will hopefully get an Oscar nomination this year) and Hathaway is a skilled entertainer. However, can the Academy please just get an actual comedian back onstage again? It’s time for the Hollywood elite to learn that everyone needs to get made fun of every once in a while.