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Your Musical Advent Calendar, Part 9: "Lethal Weapon."
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By Erich Vandussen
Erich Van Dussen's film reviews have been featured in newspapers and magazines, on the radio, and online for more than 20 years. He lives in the Finger Lakes region.
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Everybody loves Christmas carols and everyone loves Christmas movies, but did you ever consider how your favorite films use your favorite music? Ninth in a 12-part series.
Yes, Lethal Weapon. Why Not? The movie opens with Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” includes action scenes in a Christmas tree lot and in a family’s holiday-bedecked living room, and closes with … well, we’ll get to that in a minute. Along with the original Die Hard, Richard Donner’s 1987 buddy-cop movie is routinely cited as ideal Christmas counter-programming – a shoot-’em-up with its heart in the right place
The film is replete with Yuletide references, but none as genuine as the final scene, in which family man Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) hosts his loose-cannon partner Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson) for Christmas dinner. Their emotional arc has covered a lot of ground over the course of the film, as have Riggs’ suicidal tendencies. It didn’t happen without plenty of real suffering, of course, including kidnappings, murders, torture and the demolition of the Murtaugh family’s living room by a vengeful band of drug-dealing mercenaries.
But now peace has settled on Roger’s house, at least for the moment: as Riggs’ dog meets Murtaugh’s cat, the sounds of suburban holiday bedlam fill the audio track. Roger stops for a moment, calmly adjusting a string of lights hanging over his front door – and Elvis Presley’s “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” tees up as the credits roll.

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