Now that we’re getting into holiday season, everyone should be dusting off their VHS (or DVD if you’re in the 21st century) copies of Die Hard since it’s the perfect holiday movie. Even if you’re not hunkering down with your family to watch John McClane (Bruce Willis) save Nakatomi Plaza from a band of terrorists/thieves, maybe you’re excited about news of a sixth Die Hard film. In a recent interview Die Hardest screenwriter Ben Trebilcook revealed that they might bring back one of McClane’s old comrades. So we’re taking this opportunity to look back at McClane’s best partners.
20th Century Fox
Jack McClane (Jai Courtney)
In A Good Day to Die Hard, John McClane was joined by his son, Jack, to fight against corrupted Russian government officials. Who doesn’t love a father and son bonding movie; it’s good fun all around. Sort of. John and Jack don’t exactly have the most loving relationship, but they make a good team.
Matt Farrell (Justin Long)
As the young computer hacker to McClane’s wizened detective, Matt Farrell isn’t like any other of John’s partners. He doesn’t have any experience averting terrorist plots, he can’t shoot a gun, and he’s kind of jumpy. But what he lacks in physicality, he makes up for with computer knowledge — which John totally does not have.
Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson)
As in father of Apollo, Mt. Olympus, don’t mess with him or he’ll shoot a lightning bolt at you. Most fans of the Die Hard film series can attest that Zeus is probably the most beloved of John’s partners; he certainly has some of the best one-liners, like the slightly-altered quip mentioned earlier.
Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson)
Although we all love Zeus, Sergeant Al Powell will forever be John McClane’s best partner because he was there with John at Nakatomi Plaza where it all began. Al and John became lifelong friends on that fateful December night as they helped each other thwart Hans Gruber’s plans and save the hostages. Al even makes a cameo in Die Hard 2, though more as a friend than a partner.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.