Episode 244: Die-Hard-alectical Materialism

The Overthinkers tackle “A Good Day To Die Hard.”

Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink A Good Day to Die Hard.


→ Download Episode 244 (MP3)

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Further Reading

Rejected Titles Include:

  • “A Bear with A Certain Set of Skills”
  • “Ducklings Probably Eat Human Flesh!?”
  • “Pre LaFontaine Movie Trailers”
  • “Fiat Money”
  • “Like Watching Someone Who’s Really Good at Time Crisis Play for An Hour and A Half”
  • “There Is A Foot”
  • “Plato’s Republic, Confucius, and The Book of Timothy”
  • “Private Business Transacted on A Public Stage”
  • “There Are No Klingons in The Movie. #disappointed”
  • “My Girlfriend is into Big, Green, and Angry”

26 Comments on “Episode 244: Die-Hard-alectical Materialism”

  1. Chris Morgan #

    Man, for whatever reason every time Mark said “Motherlover” it really grated on me. Also, Motherboy XXX. Arrested Development references!

    While I admittedly do not know The Rock’s workout regimen, and maybe Pete was referring to some actual, specific news involving The Rock. However, he’s been back wrestling recently, and the WWE has a fairly stringent drug testing policies these days. Sure, The Rock is the kind of guy they might be willing to turn a blind eye toward, but it feels unlikely to me. Of course, I don’t know exactly when this movie was shot either.

    Lastly, on the topic of steroids, I don’t want to delve into this too deeply, but there isn’t really any proof that steroids use actually increases a player’s ability to hit for power. A lot of good research has gone into this. At the very least, the “Barry Bonds hit a lot of home runs because he used steroids” notion is, at best, fairly hyperbolic.

    Actually, one more thing. Commercials that don’t sell the product on its merits are stupid. I know they work on some people, because some people are stupid, but it still disappoints me.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      “At the very least, the “Barry Bonds hit a lot of home runs because he used steroids” notion is, at best, fairly hyperbolic.”

      Strongly disagree with your claim here. Sure, maybe Bonds didn’t get the power to hit home runs from steroids, HGH, whatever he was taking at the time. But that’s not why pro ballplayers take steroids and HGH — they take steroids and HGH to recover from injury and extend their careers.

      The notable thing is not that Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs when he was 37 (although that’s still pretty shady looking) — it’s that he hit 45 home runs when he was 40.

      It’s just not natural for a ballplayer to peak that late and last that long. The game is too hard on your body for it.


  2. Christian Walters #

    Children’s story reboots!

    We may have missed this window with the Matt Damon movie “Contagion” being so recent, but a gritty “Green Eggs & Ham” could make a horrifying plague thriller. Obviously, something has gone wrong with the world’s chickens and pigs! Maybe a terrorist bioweapon, unleashed by known Hassad agent Sam I Am?

    And SIA can be played by Sean Penn, thanks to his work in I Am Sam. So when Penn says “I Am Sam I Am,” all the moviephiles in the audience can have a little thrill.

    Tag Line: You Will Also Not Like Green Eggs and Ham.


    • Christian Walters #

      I said Hassad agent. I sleepily meant Hamas. But we could also use agents from Hassad Farms in Australia. I think Penn could handle the accent.


  3. Lee OTI Staff #

    Can we talk a little more about the amazing Don LaFontaine?

    Here’s a short, entertaining video about his career, which claims that he did a staggering 750,000 television spots and 5,000 movie trailers.



  4. Pasteur #

    I think the answer for the Die Hard franchise is to give it to Robert Pattinson. He’s a natural for self-deprecating comedy and looking like he’s out of his depth, and by the time Bruce Willis has retired, he’ll be the perfect age for it. The question is, who would play Hans? (Joseph Gordon Levitt)


    • babybiceps #

      After Looper, I think it’s better to have it the other way around.


  5. dj glucose #

    I want to say that, as soon as I heard Matt’s La Fontainian take on “Goodnight Moon”, I laughed so vigorously that I dropped my swiffer (I sometimes listen to you guys while cleaning). I want to say that, but I can’t, because that story is so ingrained in my mind as a result of reading to my son every single night, so it took me a few lines to realize that I wasn’t reciting the lines. Kudos to you.
    Also, if you are going with your original idea for the reboot, starring the child star du jour, look no further than Quvenzhané Wallis. Not only is she “so hot right now”, riding the wave from “Beasts…” and “Annie”, but she is also sassy enough to carry the inevitable sequel, “The Runaway Bunny”.


  6. JosephFM #

    I’m just wondering why Keith David doesn’t do more trailer voiceovers (other than for the US Navy). I can assume it’s in part because he has other acting work that he’d rather do like his recurring guest spot on Adventure Time..


  7. Megan from Lombard #

    I have to disagree with Pete’s comment that women to watch action movies just for the eye candy. While that may be true for some women, as someone who prefers action movies to romcoms I’m going to see the action movie for the explosions and the comic book movie to see how the integrated elements from the comic book into the movie. Is the eye candy a plus? Sure but that’s not the main reason I’m going.

    It’s the same with the Assassin’s Creed series; I’m going to play it for the chance to assassinate someone, free-run across the rooftops and blow people up. The “love story” is just there as a secondary element for me, I’m not going to play it just for the love interest.

    Now I’m sure the game developers and casting directors add in those elements to draw in the fans of that actor/pander to what they think female gamers want but the core female base is going to see the movie/play the game regardless of the abs and romance.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Yeah, sure, but don’t you think you might be a little more into this stuff than the great mass of women from whom movie studios and theater chains are looking to take lots of money?

      The Avengers does a lot of stuff to be awesome for people of all gender identifications who already like action movies and superhero movies movies — the stuff I was talking about is what they do to make people who _don’t_ like those kinds of movies still want to come and see it — more specifically, how to make it just palatable enough for those people that they have a reason to go see it with the people in their lives who _are_ into it.

      This is why Gerard Butler is in so many romantic comedies — because the presence of the “Guy from 300” creates a paper-thin rationalization for people who don’t like romantic comedies to choose to go to this one rather than another one. For the person who likes romantic comedies, the drawback of having him rather than somebody else is fairly minor. For the person who can’t stand them, bringing them up from like 80% antipathy to 30% antipathy is a huge jump.

      The fact that these groups in practice in today’s market correlate with gender identity is a problem, but it’s also a fact, and not one that people making high-budget movies that need broad audiences to be financially viable can afford to ignore for the sake of altruism.

      It’s a vicious cycle, but it’s one that has protects itself evolutionarily — it’s not any one person or small cabal of people deciding it, and people who go too too far against the grain — or who take risks that fail as opposed to risks that succeed — are selected against and lose either their jobs or their influence.

      But yes, your comment confirms that, as we expect of OTI readers, you are several standard deviations more awesome than the average person :-)


    • Gab #

      I’m with you, Megan, on all counts. Except, I haven’t played the Assassins Creed games… yet. I’m working on Arkham City and Bioshock right now, so soon. ;p

      And while I think you’re right in the marketing, Fenzel, I find it highly insulting that the general consensus (not your personal opinion- I get it, I’m ranting at society, here, not you) is that the only reason I’d be interested in seeing an action movie (or playing an action game) is to see six packs.

      And I have to add that the double-standard in attractiveness is highly palatable. A woman in an action movie pretty much can’t ever be unattractive- she’s always hot, no matter how many actual lines she has. And more often than not, she doesn’t really do much- or if she does, it’s a Big F***ing Deal (and meant to turn the men in the audience on, not so much because she wants to, you know, not die). But for a dude to be in a romcom, that’s not always the case- I feel like a lot of the male action stars in romcoms making crossovers aren’t all that attractive. Maybe I’m wonkers, but if he’s just standing there, I don’t find Gerard Butler very appealing- his face is… crooked. And his smile is slightly smarmy. Sorry, that’s an anecdote, but my point is that yeah, okay, both sides get objectified. But I think in different ways and for different reasons.

      Because, as has been talked about before on the Podcast and in comments, market and statistic-wise, women do go to action movies more than men go to romcoms. Movie makers don’t really necessarily need to cast hunky stars to get women to enjoy their action movies- and maybe it makes them a little more palatable or even more desirable to see for some women. But it isn’t about social stigma for women seeing action movies, when it is about that for men seeing romcoms. Or not even actual stigma, but fear of being perceived as not manly enough- even if that’s not actually happening. Gerard Butler et. al. are there not because men like oggling them, but because it makes them feel less emasculated to have them there, and it helps them keep their credibility as fully masculine. The interesting thing about it is while a male’s traditionally masculine positionality may come under threat when seeing a rom com, a woman’s traditionally feminine role isn’t questioned when she sees an action flick.

      Now I suppose we could interpret this vis a vis traditional gender roles and hegemonic masculinity, since feminine subordination is kind of key, there. So a woman seeing an action movie is fine, because she’s passively admitting the male-oriented movie is normatively better; and having action dudes in romcoms makes romcoms normatively better because it’s incorporating highly masculine elements via those actors.

      Also (man, I can’t shut up this morning), having good looking women in action movies is kind of standard. Sure, good looking male leads in romcoms happens, too, but again, they’re there for different reasons, with different expectations about what they’ll do in the story, etc. I think the latter have more agency. And don’t get me started on how societal-standard-ugly men get the hot girl all the time in romcoms, but societal-standard-ugly women don’t get the guy (unless they get a makeover!).

      And yeah, there are exceptions to everything I said, but on the aggregate level, if you were to tally it up, the totals would be pretty consistent, and those would be more like exceptions proving the rule- they’re soooo innovative, oh wow, they’re breaking the standard! Etc.


      • An Inside Joke #

        I’d like to echo the points already made above. If I wanted to oogle Gerard Butler for 2 hours, I could do that using Google image search for free – if you want me to shell out $15+ dollars for a movie ticket, plus gas, parking, popcorn, etc., you’d better be offering a pretty compelling story or great special effects or something else that I can’t get at home for free, and an attractive movie star isn’t that.

        Of course, that doesn’t mean that studio execs aren’t still making casting decisions based on that assumption, but I highly doubt that females seeing a movie because it stars a “hot” guy has any noticeable impact on ticket sales.


      • Gab #

        Also. Gerard Butler as the title character in The Phantom of the Opera? Ew. And that has absolutely nothing to do with his makeup. And not even as a comparison to Michael Crawford.

        I have absolutely no doubts he was cast for that adaptation for all the reasons he’s been brought up as an example before. And I think it had quite a bit to do with why the movie wasn’t as successful as everyone was expecting. No, it wasn’t a flop, but it should have done better. How can it when the Phantom is flat the whole time?

        ::end rant::


  8. Jasin #

    Could you guys do a little compare and contrast with Skyfall? Both action movies are dealing with old franchises struggling to stay relevant, except one of them seems to be a better movie


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      There’s no “seems” about it — Skyfall is miles better than A Good Day to Die Hard.

      I’d dispute that either franchise is “struggling to stay relevant.” Live Free or Die Hard made almost $400 million worldwide. A Good Day to Die Hard has already pulled down about $225 million global (notably 73% of that from outside the united states) The new Die Hard movies aren’t especially compelling from an artistic standpoint, but they’re popular and successful.

      And Skyfall was the highest-grossing film in U.K. history and the most commercially successful Bond film since Thunderball, adjusted for inflation.

      So, yeah, neither franchise is struggling. Quantum of Solace was a misstep, but they’re both doing fine.

      The thing these franchises have in common that, say, the recent Stallone and Schwarzenegger movies did not, is that they made movies that people wanted to see that used the previous material as inspiration — or, at worst, branding. They did not seek to “improve” or “make relevant” the forms and aesthetics of the old movies from earlier in their franchises.

      I mean, Skyfall is just a huge slam dunk. Oscar-winning director, brilliant, brilliant cinematographer doing some of the most beautiful photography of the year, solid if a bit clunky story, cast of acting legends. Skyfall swung for the fences and was an ambitious movie that was primarily about the sublimity, tragedy and transformation of transposing the iconography of Bond into our contemporary visual culture.

      Meanwhile, A Good Day to Die Hard was a very safe movie. It invested a great deal in a bunch of stuff it was absolutely certain that people like and want to watch, and it did those things very big and very well — machine guns, helicopters, giant trucks crashing into things — maybe I didn’t quite communicate in the context how big the scale of this movie is in terms of how it heightens rather traditional action sequences. This movie is just way, way, way over the top — and over the top in a cleaner and more watchable way than a Michael Bay movie where everything is flying all over the place and not making sense. Things that happen onscreen have an almost Jack Kirby-esque motion and impact.

      In particular, A Good Day to Die Hard does a great job of compositing real-life cinematography with CGI and post-production. There is a scene where a helicopter lets loose on a building with a machine gun, and it looks pretty damn impressive. Half the scene is “real” and the other half is CGI. The catch? The helicopter is the real part, filmed on a test course firing live ammunition. The entire building was inserted in post-production.

      I mean, which would you rather watch, CGI Megatron chasing real Shia LeBoef, or real Megatron chasing CGI Shia LeBoef? I know which I’d rather watch.

      So, yeah, A Good Day to Die Hard is so much better at being trashily impressive than so many other movies. But it’s not ambitious in an artistic sense. It is made for CONSUMPTION. It is a product. Whereas Skyfall is less a product and more of a “brand proposition” that also happens to be, at the very least, depending on taste, a pretty good movie.


  9. ringolingo #

    Re: Ben’s comment about thinking for the trailer when writing a screenplay – I have read comments in screenplay writing books, and heard people say in lectures, that you ought to have a few moments in your screenplay that could be used in a trailer. Though if you reduce that down further it’s like saying “Make sure your screenplay has at least half a dozen interesting moments/lines in it” which is probably a bare minimum and not some Hollywood marketing trend.

    And speaking as a woman who went to see the Conan movie because it had Jason Momoa in it – and whose friends all just watched his terrible Lifetime movie so they could ogle him – I have some anecdotal evidence that women find him attractive. Though the role I know him from best is Stargate: Atlantis, where he was very much the “strong silent stoic” type and still much more closely related to the ’80s action hero than most of his contemporaries.


    • fenzel OTI Staff #

      Thank you!

      I feel vindicated! :-)


  10. Lee OTI Staff #




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