Pop Rocks: "Getting Too Old for This Shit" -- A Cinematic History
Time marches on. There comes a point in all of our lives when the inevitability of our eventual demise goes from esoteric concept to concrete fact. There's no set schedule for when awareness will strike; maybe it's the first time your back gives out, or when you find yourself squinting to read the newspaper. It could be something as devastating as the funeral of a lifelong friend, or as innocuous as realizing one of your all-time favorite movies is 30 years old this year. And you saw it when you were 12.
If you've ever found yourself muttering, "I'm getting too old for this shit" to yourself, you're in pretty good company. And I'm not talking about me, even though I say it every time I end up awake past 11 p.m. writing another goddamned American Idol recap. Some of the most venerated names in Hollywood have uttered that very line (or variations thereof), which was of course made famous by Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, but who said it first? And when? The answers may shock and surprise you.
Or bore and annoy you. I get paid either way.
The exact phrase -- "I'm getting too old for this shit" and/or "I'm too old for this shit" appears in ten different movies (for purposes of this exercise, all four Lethal Weapon films count as one, and no TV movies were included). The films, along with the character who speaks the line, are as follows:
Behind Enemy Lines/P.O.W. The Escape (1986) - Col. James Cooper (David Carradine)
The Hunter (1980) - Ralph "Papa" Thorson (Steve McQueen)
Ladder 49 (2004) - Lenny Richter (Robert Patrick)
Lethal Weapon series (1987-98) - Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover)
Maverick (1994) - Bank Robber (Danny Glover)
Out for Justice (1991) - Capt. Ronnie Donziger (Jerry Orbach)
To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) - Agent Jim Hart (Michael Greene)
Showtime (2002) - Det. Mitch Preston (Robert De Niro)
Space Cowboys (2000) - Eugene Davis (William Devane)
Stripes (1981) - Sgt. Hulka (Warren Oates)
A more innocuous version, "I'm too old for this crap," appears in two movies:
Adventures in Babysitting (1987) - Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) - Jetfire (Mark Ryan)
Babysitters and robots, of course, don't curse.
The rigors of life-threatening duty seem to prompt a great deal of introspection: Of the original ten profane versions, the line is uttered by a member of the military or law enforcement six times (seven if we count bounty hunter "Papa" Thorson). It also appears McQueen was the first ever to use the line (and all this time I'd been betting on Warren Oates), which is kind of bittersweet, since The Hunter was his last role before he succumbed to lung cancer.
|Too old indeed. Oates would die a year after Stripes' release.|
Another variation, without any reference to feces whatsoever ("I'm getting too old for this [etc]"), appears in a further eight movies:
Blade (1998) - Whistler (Kris Kristofferson)
Coccoon (1985) - Art Selwyn (Don Ameche)
Elf (2003) - Santa (Ed Asner)
The Freshman (1990) - Carmine Sabatini (Marlon Brando)
The Mask of Zorro (1998) - Don Diego de la Vega (Anthony Hopkins
Sneakers (1992) - Martin Bishop (Robert Redford)
Star Wars (1977) - Ben Kenobi (Alec Guinness)
Wizards (1977) - Avatar (Bob Holt)
That's an impressive lineup of (overwhelmingly male) talent, with McQueen, De Niro, Oates, Brando, Hopkins, Redford and Guinness standing out in particular. Carmine Sabatini says he's too old for "this nonsense," while the about-to-retire Zorro actually tells his horse, "You're getting too old for this." I included it anyway because horses are awesome. Interestingly, both Ben Kenobi and the wizard Avatar speak essentially the same line, "I'm getting too old for this sort of thing," in two fantasy/sci-fi movies released in 1977, which would appear to make them the first.
But if we loosen up our parameters a little bit further, we come up with even more examples.