By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 6, 2007 at 9:36AM
This weekend I caught up with Charlie Rose's conversation with Matt Groening and Jim Brooks, both of whom are among the smartest and funniest people I have gotten to know in Hollywood. Brooks insists upon high standards. He's a guy who observes, analyzes, improves. What The Simpsons has done, as the longest running TV show and now a movie, is pretty amazing. (Like many Angelinos, I TiVo Charlie Rose and watch the shows that appeal to me.)
I finally saw Live Free or Die Hard, which was pretty good until the preposterous effects went over the top toward the end. It's part of the formula for a summer movie. (Whoever bought the crazy assertion that there were no digital effects in the movie is bonkers; the movie combines live action with digital, which makes the effects look less pixilated and more real. That's the smart way to go.)
Die Hard is losing screens (to The Simpsons among other things) while still doing business. The single screen at the AMC sold out the 8 PM show so I bought a ticket to The Simpsons and snuck into Die Hard, feeling vaguely guilty that I would cost someone their seat, but there were a few left down in front.
The reason for Die Hard's surprising longevity after all these years?
The script was smart, crisply directed and well played by Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Maggie Q and Timothy Olyphant. The audience was frightened by the premise that the country's vital processes are vulnerable to attack by cyber hackers. They were rapt as the hacker villains brought D.C. to a halt. As is true in many films these days, the government was ineffectual, clueless, incompetent. The audience--which was largely over 25-- ate up McClane as the Luddite who uses old-fashioned physical violence to protect and serve. After all these years, while the world has changed, McClane is reassuringly the same.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]