Reincarnate hard

In Funny People (dir. Apatow, 2009), Adam Sandler, since diagnosed with cancer, teases his oncologist about looking like Karl, the blond villain in Die Hard (1988) who rises from the dead at the end of the film for a final shot at John McClane (Bruce Willis), only to be shot dead by the black cop, played by the guy who ended up playing Urkel’s neighbor. (I’ll spare you my theory on the subconscious racism of how all “good cops” are black, as if such casting were some progressive affront to the more common implicit stereotype.) It is sadly wonderful how all of you know what I’m talking about, these names and faces closer than our own cousins — that there are semi-dense clusters of cells in our brains dedicated to remembering these things, that we are somewhat thwarted by them, yet continuously rewarded. In Hollywood’s game, people can be anything, and Apatow is aware of the pleasure we derive in getting the reference, the erratic yet embedded memory of Karl, as Bruce Willis and John McClane are equally distilled with meaning in this regard. (“Where you try to kill Bruce Willis” is Sandler’s punchline.) The question is did the script call for an actor who looked like Die Hard’s Karl, or was the script cleverly revised, ad libbed even, once they noticed the similarity? The answer is less important than its instigator. Karl since has risen from the dead twice, an unlikely Jesus, save the perfect Aryan hair.


Film / 17 Comments
July 1st, 2011 / 1:13 pm