Thursday, February 20, 2014

Adventures in Cinema: ROBOCOP 2

In cinema circles right now, one of the main topics of nerdly discussion is the relative non-necessity of a remake of Paul Verhoeven's ROBOCOP.  

Released in 1987, this sci-fi action satire drama chunk of awesomeness looked like a terrible good-guy clone of THE TERMINATOR going by the advance poster art and at the time I paid it little mind.  When I saw it though, I was as bowled over by how much fun it was as everyone else.  

Sweet action, crazy gallows humor, hugely quotable, insane comic violence and gleeful debauchery, all surrounding the heart and soul of a good guy out to get the bad guys.  There were sequels, TV shows, comic books, and videogames to follow.  And, it now seems, the inevitable Hollywood product remake with reduced violence and toothless satire.  As far as the sequels to the original film go, I've never seen ROBOCOP 3... ("A pg-13 RoboCop movie? Who the hell would want to see that?"

But the also-nutty ROBOCOP 2 (1990) will always have a place in my ridiculous heart.  

Aside from the now-classic sequence where all the new models are trotted out and shown going crazy, the meta-dialogue about bad follow-ups to superior originals, the swearing little kid drug dealer and Tom Freakin' Noonan... there is one event I can't help but recall whenever I think of ROBOCOP 2.

The night it the film came out in the summer of 1990, my friends and I all worked in a suburban multiplex cinema off the highway between Boston and Providence.  My crazy friend Chris (we all have that one crazy friend) and I were going to see it at the 7:00pm Friday night first show at the theater where we worked.  We'd been playing Nintendo games for far too long, though, and lost track of time.  He lived about ten miles from the cinema and we realized we had less than fifteen minutes till showtime. We hurriedly finished playing "Duck Hunt" or whatever we were so engrossed in and ran down to my car downstairs.

Now, at the time Chris lived across from an expansive car park in a sort of burnt out industrialized area at the end of town (not unlike Delta City, actually) and we would routinely engage in some loud, obnoxious behavior because it amused us and because, as two crazy-looking weirdos, we could.  One example was a game we'd invented called LETHAL WEAPON PARKING LOT.  I'd get in my car and drive backwards, he'd chase after the car on foot like Martin Riggs... and I'd swerve left and right, going backwards at high speeds, trying to lose him. What can I tell you?  It was like being a stunt man filming an action scene.  We were stupid and easily-amused kids.

This time, though, I got to the car far ahead of him, which was unusual as he was always the faster runner of the two of us, started it up, and when he was about fifty yards away from my legendary 1978 Oldsmobile Royale "Uncle Buck" battletank, I hit the gas and went tearing across the pavement backwards, which was the universal symbol for "GAME ON."  

Chris came running.  But since I knew we didn't have time for this if we were going to make the start of ROBOCOP 2, I slowed down again almost immediately.  He didn't, though.  He was running at the car full speed before I knew it and when I suddenly slowed down, he flew up the front of the car over the hood and BAM.  Rolled onto his shoulder and went right through my windshield, ripping a hole in it where it looked like his head bounced off it.

Now imagine this.  The car is now stopped.  I hear an "UGH!" and he rolls back off the car onto the ground.  There's a moment of silence.  I'm freaked.  He's on the ground where I can't see him.  There's no sound but the rumbling of my idling engine.  A few seconds pass and then...


Chris is on the ground laughing his ass off and after a moment he gets up to survey the damage.  "Holy shit, are you okay?" I ask him.  

He was totally fine, as his jacket was thick enough to take the hit and cushion him from any glass or bodily harm.  His head didn't actually hit the windshield or the roof or anything, he had no whiplash and there was no blood anywhere. He got the wind knocked out of him for a brief moment, came up laughing and was absolutely none the worse for wear.  We both broke out laughing in relief then, as this was probably one of the more scary and more stupid things we'd done in a while.  But then the true shock and seriousness of the situation hit us...

"We're totally gonna miss the start of ROBOCOP 2 if we don't hurry up!"

So we jumped back in the car and drove as fast as we could with a broken windshield to the movie theater.

Finding a front row parking spot, we dashed though the lobby past our friends, some of which couldn't help but notice the giant hole in the windshield.  "What the fuck?!" our friend Shawn asked.  "Not now, we'll talk later!" we yelled as we grabbed two free sodas and a bunch of popcorn and briskly cut ahead of the two-hundred person line to the about-to-begin 7:00pm showing.  The movie started and we were still laughing like idiots from the adrenaline.  We sat back and settled into some Robo glory.

After a little while for some odd reason -- lack of sleep or too many videogames earlier that day -- my eyes started getting itchy.  I was rubbing them when Chris asks me what's up.  I whisper that my eyes are itchy and this kid decides to go PsyOp on me and mess with my head, another favorite pasttime of ours.  

"You know why that is, don't you?" Chris whispered as we watched the film.  "It's probably microscopic shards of broken windshield glass, and every blink you blink is probably bringing you one step closer to blindness."  

"You... You think?"  I felt the fear coming on.

"Yep.  Don't worry, though.  I'll drive you to the hospital after the movie there, Ray Charles."

"FUCK YOU!" I yelled and spastically leaped to my feet, crushing people in the seats next to us and knocking others out of the way, running at full speed to the bathroom and flushing my eyes with water from the sink like a total freak show madman.

The itchiness went away after a moment and fortunately I can still see just fine, thank you, almost twenty-five years later.  I went back to the movie, sat back down, was fine again and just laughed like an idiot a little more. 

"Did I miss anything?" I asked.  

"Yeah, RoboCop shot somebody for smoking a cigarette."

Just another day with my crazy friend, Chris.  And I always think of it whenever someone brings up ROBOCOP 2. Good times.