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Yippikaaiyaay, Bruce Willis. We'll miss you at the movies

Remembering the best of Bruce Willis' films and TV series, as the actor retires.

March 31, 2022 / 12:47 PM IST
Bruce Willis is

Bruce Willis is "stepping away from acting"; he's been diagnosed with aphasia, a progressive disease. He's acted in over 100 movies, and TV series like 'Moonlighting' and 'Friends'.

The announcement that Bruce Willis has the neurodegenerative disease aphasia has stunned his fans around the world. This disease slowly makes a person lose language comprehension and the ability to communicate. It’s not what his Die Hard fans wanted to hear. No, not even if his last release went straight to VOD.

As he retires, his fans will be praying for a cure and just like yours truly, happy to watch his hits all over again.

Here’s looking at you, Bruce Willis!

Moonlighting

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I became a Bruce Willis fan when I watched him in Moonlighting on television (ABC, 1985-1989).

If you are a fan of gumshoe tales, then you can watch Bruce Willis create a space for himself on TV.

The series by today’s standards seems not so ‘cool’, but it featured two detectives (Bruce Willis and Cybil Shepherd), their quirky receptionist who answered the phone with a silly rhyme, and cases titled ‘It’s a Wonderful Job’ and ‘The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice’ (the latter has been enshrined in TV Guide’s 100 best TV episodes of all time).

Die Hard

‘Lady, do you think I’m ordering a pizza?’ quickly became a favourite to indicate a chaotic life, more than any other meme-worthy dialogue and moment in the film.

Ever since I have seen it, the original (not the thousand sequels it spawned), this film has been my favourite Christmas movie. And no matter how much we loved Alan Rickman’s unrequited romance with Lily Potter, or his awesome role in Sense and Sensibility, for me his appearance on the screen was always accompanied by a sense of dread. What if he’s really Gruber? Is there a John Maclaine to save us from his cruelty? Netflix has a wonderful show called How Movies Were Made, and you too can discover the amazing secrets behind a fabulous film.

Death Becomes Her

Bruce Willis’ comic timing shines in this comedy of Faustian proportions. Of course the focus is on Meryl Streep, but it’s Bruce Willis in the funny moustache who gets the best dialogue in the movie: “I don't want to live forever. I mean, it sounds good, but what am I gonna do? What if I get bored?” This movie is available on Hulu and for the rest of us who have not subscribed, on YouTube (in parts, I’m afraid).

Pulp Fiction

Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction is an aging boxer on the run from Marselus after having double crossed him. Although this was not as big a role as Samuel L. Jackson or John Travolta’s, Bruce Willis’s Butch was just perfect casting by Quentin Tarantino and you will love the car crash scene and discover how wonderfully in this movie a simple drive could turn bloody, literally and figuratively. Also we learnt to say ‘Chopper’ not motorbike…

Also read: Quentin Tarantino to go ahead with auction of ‘Pulp Fiction’ NFTs despite Miramax lawsuit

Moonrise Kingdom

Although it’s all about Sam and Suzy’s love story, it’s also about the grown-ups like Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and yes, Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp. While the runaway 11-year-olds are discovering love in a secluded cove, there is a posse of wild kids from Camp Ivanhoe, armed to the teeth with hand-fashioned weapons after them, trying their camp tracking and hunting skills. The grown-ups, as in all Wes Anderson movies are a weird bunch. This film will make you search for portable record players on your favourite e-commerce site, for sure.

Look Who’s Talking

It was still rude back in 1989 to stare at a woman’s bosom and mutter what he did in the movie, but John Travolta and the voice of Bruce Willis made it funny. Bruce Willis’ distinctive voice even made the sequel of Look Who’s Talking a hit as well. Who’d have thunk that a baby’s voice saying seriously grown-up stuff would make us look at life again.

Although you never really gave it much thought, Bruce Willis also showed up in The Lego Movie Part Two: The Second Part as himself. How amazing is it to have a Lego of your own!

The Last Boy Scout

‘We're going to get the bad guys… Just point and shoot!’ Bruce Willis plays a private detective who stumbles into corruption and gambling in sports (American Football) and has to defend a quarterback. This is an out-and-out action film, and Bruce Willis does a great job, pulling off driving stunts that are super cool.

The Sixth Sense

‘I see dead people!’ became a line we’ve all used in real life (I even own a Tee that says ‘I see dead pixels’). Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment in an N. Night Shyamalan movie that is worth every rewatch. A child is terrified and withdrawn because he sees dead people walking about like ordinary people. The child psychologist helps the boy understand his predicament and guides him through what could be a traumatic life. You can watch this gentle version of Bruce Willis on Disney+Hotstar.

12 Monkeys

The past cannot be changed, but you can certainly change the future, is the 12 Monkeys theory. Bruce Willis stars in this sci-fi movie (and you will also love Brad Pitt in the film). I love the ambiguity of the ending (most good science fiction films often have ambiguous endings), but the parallels in our real lives today are uncanny. We’re plagued by a virus and are forced to stay indoors in real life, while in the movie, people move underground… This is one of Bruce Willis’ coolest films.

He’s made so many Die Hard movies, one has lost count. Each one more violent than the other. He also appears with Sylvester Stallone and other bigwigs in The Expendables. Bruce Willis played Host when David Letterman was unwell. Heck, he even appears in the watched and re-watched TV series Friends as a dad! If you are a fan of the band Gorillaz, you will see Bruce Willis in the video of their song ‘Stylo’. He has a Subaru Legacy car named after him.

Unbreakable

Bruce Willis in Unbreakable - where he appeared with Samuel L. Jackson - had me creeped out for a long time after I had seen it. The ending may or may not move you, but the premise was superb.

I wish Bruce Willis in real life, too, fights this awful disease and emerges as a superhero again. I am glad we have all his movies to watch and enjoy. I hope his family and friends surround him with the same kind of love and generosity he showed when he bought 12,000 boxes of girl scout cookies for his daughter Tallulah and then donated those boxes to soldiers.



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Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.
first published: Mar 31, 2022 12:39 pm
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