Yippee Ki Yay MPAA
Live Free or Die Hard poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published June 20, 2007
The action is what people will come for ? but without an R-rating, how good can this really be?
I may be proven wrong when I see the fourth installment of Die Hard, but its PG-13 earning from the MPAA has thrown many into a loop, and makes me question the chances of it being good. Fox obviously wants kids to be able to see this movie, which is the way they shouldn't be thinking. Every Die Hard up to this point has been R, which was a significant reason behind why parts one and three worked. The violence was bloody and awesome in part one, and though part two didn't work, they came back swinging third time around.

The billboards I've seen around town for Die Hard make me wince. Not the ones with Bruce Willis in the frame ? rather, the ones that exclusively say: "Yippee Ki Yay Mo..." and block out the rest to induce a smirk. They seem to be treating this Die Hard installment in a cutesy fashion, and it's pretty obvious that foul word usage will be the only foul language, period. Does Fox really want to screw over the fans by making this movie family-friendly? Since when was Die Hard an open movie to everyone? I know the executives are thinking in terms of box office, but they're likely going to piss off the real fans of the series by playing this installment safe. The marketing staff is trying to make part four look cool through the music in the trailer, and some of the action sequences do look like they'll be fun. But I keep getting the itching sensation that most of what made Die Hard a classic is being substituted with geeky material for kids.

The chance of bloody showdowns is slim to none, which is disconcerting; but the chance of some big action scenes is likely. The story of Willis trying to save his daughter sounds weak, a rip-off of True Lies, but the action is what people will come for ? but without an R-rating, how good can this really be? Even if it has its moments, which I'm kind of expecting, that's still reason enough to point fingers at 20th Century Fox for giving this another go like this.

The original Die Hard didn't have a heavy premise, but it didn't need one; Willis carried the show, and the originality behind the gritty action made it what it was. Die Hard 4 is reminding me of Terminator 3, which was R-rated at least but still induced a ?who-cares? feeling in its plot. That sequel had its moments but wasn't necessary. It was missing director James Cameron's gifted eye for good material, and Die Hard 4 is missing director John McTiernan.

The title, Live Free or Die Hard, even indicates that they are almost trying to distance themselves from the series by not simply calling it Die Hard 4. Who are they trying to kid? This title is cuter in a tongue-in-cheek sense, and again, not the way it should be. Granted, the studio hasn?t used numbers in any of the titles, but ?With a Vengeance? wasn?t tongue-in-cheek. If you're going to come back after a twelve-year lull, do it edgy and make a big comeback with fans ? edgy being the way Die Hard is meant to be experienced. Some people will argue that fans should relax and wait for the finished product when it's released, but these signs are usually accurate in their portrayal. There are politics in the marketing for various movies, indications as to what a studio wants to accomplish in terms of demographic appeal. Some trailers don't do movies justice, but with this it seems they're not pushing any envelopes.

The original Die Hard was a shock movie for its time and gave new meaning to the idea of walking barefoot on broken glass. With a PG-13, there's not much of a shock value to be had here ? the violence will be kept back for general viewing safety. For a movie called Die Hard, that's pretty damn retarded. Sure, some parents can feel safer now about their kids not being subjected to riskier content, but screw them. I was a kid when I saw Die Hard and it didn't hurt me. Do the filmmakers and Fox executives really think that making this PG-13 will help the box office? The studio even dropped the PG-13 rating on their summer sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and opted for an even lighter PG rating for families; and Universal did the same with Evan Almighty and will likely abandon the original audience as a result.

Recently, Knocked Up surpassed expectations by debuting with $30 million as a hardcore R-rated comedy. Studio execs need to stop thinking that safe material works better on a business front; Borat exploded partly as a result of being R and not giving a shit about how offensive and irreverent the material was. People wanted edgy material that didn?t hold back - it was rabidly in demand in a marketplace where most talents were afraid of pushing that.

Terminator 3 was R-rated and still grossed $44 million in 3-days and $72 million in five over 4th of July weekend, 2003. It's hard to argue that the R-rating affected its performance. In fact, it's likely it would've done even more had James Cameron returned to writing and directing. T2 is widely regarded as one of the best action movies ever made, and likewise with the original Die Hard.

Regardless, I will still line up for Die Hard 4...or Live Free or Die Hard, as Fox apparently wants it referred to as. There's a part of me that wants to boycott the movie, but I'll admit, that's really not going to happen ? it?s Die Hard for Christ's sake. I'll be there opening night, so they've got me ? congratulations, Fox. But you're still evil in my book. You scored some points for getting Borat to the screen, but you're still screwing up by letting conservatives get to you.
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