Colorado film To Die is Hard debuts tonight in Fort Collins
It's no accident that Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult is prominently referenced in To Die is Hard; though the title is clearly a reference to the Die Hard series, To Die is, like Naked Gun, a send-up of that genre, combining the deadpan puns and the silly fight sequences for a feature-length romp that, if occasionally corny, at least showcases its crew having obvious fun. And if it's a little inconsistent, the novelty of a film shot and produced entirely in the hometown is probably enough to make up for it.
The film stars a hamming Glenn Berggoetz -- who also wrote, produced and directed it -- as Joe McCann, an English professor who is abnormally badass, not that that's atypical in the universe of To Die. When a terrorist plot (which later turns out to be a plot to steal office supplies and save "three to four percent" off startup costs for an apartment-finders business) throws the five or so people still on campus on a Friday into disarray, McCann springs into action, employing a variety of ridiculous kung-fu moves to kill the terrorists one by one.
The film takes a Will Ferrell-esque approach to badassitude, playing up Berggoetz's awkward movements, excessive vanity and flabby, middle-aged physique while simultaneously making him an inexplicable chick magnet (which leads to a weirdly incestuous subplot that has his wife and daughter competing swooningly for his attention), but certainly doesn't try to ignore the inevitable influence of Leslie Nielson on the genre -- pun-laden one-liners are frequent. In terms of language, the movie is squeaky-clean enough to warrant a solid G-rating, but it's also somewhat oddly sex-obsessed -- which leads to a few funny moments, but also a few setups that come off ham-handed. And it seems to take a minute to get off the ground.
But it has some truly funny moments as well, frequently nailing cliches of the genre it parodies (several jokes have McCann popping up creepily out of nowhere), and Berggoetz's playfully absurdist sense of anticlimax serves him well in several instances, as does his fondness for white dudes dancing for no particular reason. And -- at least for anyone who went to school on the Auraria Campus -- the familiarity of the scenery (in theory, it's set at "State College University," but in fact it was shot almost entirely at the King Center) will lend it a lot of novelty mileage.
The film premiers tonight at the Lyric Cinema Cafe, 300 East Mountain Avenue in Fort Collins, at 7 p.m. and plays again tomorrow night at the same time. Tickets are $8. For more information, call 970- 493-0893.
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