allegedly with Bo and Ryan | Episode 11
Today on the podcast, Bo and Ryan discuss Part 2 of the highly illegal antics of your favorite Christmas movie characters… allegedly.
Allegedly… with Bo and Ryan Podcast E10| Transcript
Bo: [00:00:00] If it doesn’t include Tim Allen murdering Santa, I don’t know that I want to watch it.
Ryan: [00:00:04] Yeah. Fair enough.
Ryan: [00:00:06] Welcome to allegedly with Bo and Ryan, the only entertainment and Lore podcast that brings you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Allegedly.
Bo: [00:00:16] I’m Bo Bowen.
Ryan: [00:00:17] And I’m Ryan Schmidt.
Bo: [00:00:19] You’re listening to Allegedly with Bo and Ryan. We’re coming to you from our law offices in beautiful historic Savannah, Georgia, where we’ll be chatting about pop culture, hot legal topics in the news, and doing our best to change the way people think about the law and lawyers. But first, a little about us. Ryan is such an amazing writer that his Christmas list won a Pulitzer.
Ryan: [00:00:44] And Bo is so influential, the star on his Christmas tree is tracked by NASA. Together, we are Savannah’s consummate renegade legal titans.
Bo: [00:00:53] And the only corporate and entertainment lawyers in the free world who have never lost a single case… Allegedly.
Bo: [00:01:01] Welcome to episode 11, Ryan, and part two of our mission to ruthlessly destroy everyone’s favorite Christmas movies.
Ryan: [00:01:11] Yeah, we were pretty rough on some beloved Christmas characters last week. I mean, we doled out a lot of jail time to everyone from Kevin McCallister to the Grinch. I couldn’t help but imagine a special prison set up right outside a North Pole full of every character in Christmas movie that breaks the law.
Bo: [00:01:27] Well, I assume you’re thinking the same thing I’m thinking: that would make it incredible Christmas movie.
Ryan: [00:01:33] I mean, I would watch it.
Bo: [00:01:34] Well, last episode, as you mentioned, we had some fun talking about the real life legal issues in some of our favorite Christmas movies. We talked about Jingle All the Way, It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, Christmas Vacation, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Home Alone. Right. So before we jump back into that conversation, however, I did want to find out a little bit more about your feelings about Christmas. Ryan, do you have a favorite Christmas story, joke, recipe, memory, anything? What’s one of your favorite things about Christmas, Mr. Schmidt?
Ryan: [00:02:12] So, yeah, I love Christmas, of course, And when I was a kid, my grandparents would always come spend the night the night before, and so we could have Christmas with my grandparents. And I always loved that. And years later, I found out my grandpa was the one that was eating the cookies and signing off as Santa and everything like that. But one of the things.
Bo: [00:02:33] Spoiler alert.
Ryan: [00:02:34] Oh, sorry. Yeah, sorry, kid. Santa is 100% real. So the next morning, we’re. We’re opening gifts, and inevitably, my grandfather would want to be really cute about every single gift. And so you’ve got to figure I’m a twin. My sister and I would run down the stairs. We’d see all the toys under the tree, and we kind of have to do that, like fake shocked, like, Oh my God, I can’t believe that. I actually actually got everything that I asked for. Like, this is like, you know, just the, “Oh, this is so nice.” And it was, “thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad. Thanks, Santa.” Of course. And then it would come to, like, getting gifts under the tree and handing it to everybody. And my grandfather was hell bent on taking as much time as possible, opening up his gifts so we would have to wait to open ours. So each each gift that we’d hand him, he’d say, “Oh, what a lovely box, what beautiful wrapping paper.” And just slowly just put a finger right behind one seam and and he would never rip it. He’d always do it so he could save the paper later and it would take minutes. And we just be like, Come on, Grandpa, you’re killing us.
Ryan: [00:03:52] And all the time, all the while, he’s singing: “pretty paper.”
Bo: [00:03:55] Oh, my God. Devastating. Yeah.
Ryan: [00:03:59] So I was like.
Bo: [00:04:00] Dude.
Ryan: [00:04:01] But, you know, those are the those are the memories that I remember. And I look back fondly on.
Bo: [00:04:06] Nice. Well, I certainly have a lot of great Christmas stories of memories. Right. And talking about figuring out there was no Santa Claus.
Ryan: [00:04:14] What?!
Bo: [00:04:15] That reminds what of the way I’ve got two daughters, 21 and 18. The way the oldest one figured out there was no Santa Claus. I remember she was about six years old. That’s it. And she comes to me later in the day, Christmas, Christmas Day. And is like, “Can I talk to you, Dad?” I’m like, “Sure.” And she said. There’s no Santa, is there? And I said, “Well, honey, why would you say something like that?” Well, she looks at me and she says, “Well, Dad, because I just happened to notice that the writing on the Christmas presents where it says ‘to Elena, from Santa’ exactly matches your handwriting.” I’m like, You’re six, you little Sherlock Holmes. I’m not supposed to have to be that careful. So I knew pretty much then: got to watch this one. Oh, yeah, for sure. But that’s not my actual favorite Christmas story. No, no, my favorite Christmas story has to come from my sweet great grandmother. And she told me this beautiful story about how the tradition of putting an angel on the top of a Christmas tree began.
Ryan: [00:05:33] Oh, that’s nice.
Bo: [00:05:34] It’s very sweet. As you can imagine, just from the topic, this is going to be heartwarming. So this was a few days before Christmas, many years ago. Ok, Santa Claus is getting ready for his annual trip. But he has a very bad, very, very bad. No good, terrible day. There’s problems everywhere. Horrible case of the flu has swept through the workshop. Over half the elves are out sick. Needless to say, that puts production way behind schedule. He’s feeling the pressure. Sure. Now it’s at that moment that Mrs. Claus tells Santa her mom’s coming to visit. Well, as you can imagine, that just stresses him out even more. Well, Santa’s walking outside. He’s, you know, he’s going to clear his head. He’s just going to go check on the reindeer, make sure they’re all ready to fly. He discovers three of them are about to give birth, two of them have jumped the fence and disappeared. Well, by now, Santa is about to lose it. Okay, so he he storms around. He starts just throwing things in the sleigh. You know, he’s going to just go ahead and start loading it up. Suddenly, the bag slips and falls. Toys fly everywhere, all over the ground, many of them breaking. Well, speaking of breaking, that’s what Santa is about to do at this point.
Bo: [00:07:01] So he’s had enough. Okay. He’s got to have a shot of whiskey. So he storms back to his house, goes to the cupboard, only to discover the elves have drunk all his whiskey. It’s gone. Oh, my gosh. Slams his hand down on the counter in frustration. Knocked over the coffee pot falls, shatters into hundreds of pieces all over the kitchen floor. He goes to get the broom, finds that mice have eaten all the straw so he doesn’t even have a broom. Well, you can imagine the state Santa Claus is in at this point and exact moment there’s a knock on the door. Ok, well, cursing and muttering his way all the way across to the living room. Santa slings open the front door and standing there is a beautiful, radiant little angel with a smile on its face, holding a giant Christmas tree. The angel looks at him very cheerfully and says, Merry Christmas, Santa. Isn’t it just a lovely day? I have this beautiful tree for you. Isn’t it just wonderful? Where would you like me to stick it? And thus, Ryan began the tradition of the little angel on the top of the Christmas tree.
Ryan: [00:08:22] Oh, boy. I feel like you’re trying to get our podcast canceled.
Bo: [00:08:26] Don’t be ridiculous. That story is absolutely 100% true … Allegedly. All right. But you’re right. Maybe we should probably get back on topic. So I know last week we talked a lot about lawbreaker makers and Christmas movies. And, man, you were right. The criminal offenses stacked up quickly in the movies we covered. But criminal offenses aren’t the only legal issues kind of raised by these movies. There’s a lot of legal issues at Christmas movies, actually. So, Ryan, do you have any favorite Christmas movies that maybe raise any other legal issues?
Ryan: [00:09:03] Of course I do. Right. I mean, we we planned two episodes of this. So, yes, I’ve got I’ve got some ideas. The first pick shows what happens when writers try to marry the comedy gold of contract legal-ese with the equally sexy employment law, Right?
Bo: [00:09:23] Oh, man.
Ryan: [00:09:24] I’m talking, of course, about…
Bo: [00:09:26] I’m excited already.
Ryan: [00:09:26] Tim Allen’s: The Santa Clause.
Bo: [00:09:28] Oh, I mean, just in the title itself, we’ve got legal gold.
Ryan: [00:09:33] Yeah. Not not Santa Claus. Not his last name. No, the “Clause.” The provision. Right. The Santa “Clause.” So Tim Allen plays Scott Calvin, a toy salesman, and you guessed it, a deadbeat dad who’s obsessed with work. Also, a running theme is that these dads just never spend time with their family and their kids.
Bo: [00:09:56] Right. If they’re not abandoning them.
Ryan: [00:09:58] Right. Exactly. And they’re just letting them go to the North Pole by themselves and whatever. So on Christmas Eve, he and his son, he’s got his kid for the night. He’s separated from his wife and he and his son wake up to the sound of someone on the roof. They had just been reading the night before Christmas and they “arose to such a clatter.” And there’s this. There’s this man on the roof in a red suit. And so Scott Calvin is is kind of this rough kind of New Yorker’s like, Hey, what are you doing on my roof? The man in the red suit gets startled. False and plummets to his death.
Bo: [00:10:37] Whoa.
Ryan: [00:10:38] So in the first 5 minutes of the Santa Clause, they murder Santa. Wow. Yeah. I mean, it was an accident, right? But they show Santa falling off, landing on the on the concrete driveway and then, like, dissolving.
Bo: [00:10:56] Interesting.
Ryan: [00:10:57] It’s kind of jarring. So in in the Santas coat pocket, because he. He dissolves with the suit stays, of course, magic.
Bo: [00:11:05] All right. Fair.
Ryan: [00:11:06] Makes sense. And in the coat pocket is a card. And Scott’s son, Charlie, says, “Read it, Dad. Read it. Let me know what it says.” And on the front of the card, it says, If something should happen to me, put on the suit. My reindeer will know what to do. And so he’s like, “No friggin way am I putting on the suit.” And his son is already like, up, up on the roof and the sleigh and there’s the reindeer, he’s like, “Come on, Dad, come on, do it. Please. Please.” So he puts on the boots and he puts on the suit in immediately the reindeer take off. And all through the night, he and his son Charlie just live out Christmas. They deliver toys to children all over the world. And when they’re finally done, the reindeer bring them all the way up to the North Pole. And here’s where the legal fun starts. Right. So they get there, and that’s where they meet Bernard, the head elf. And Bernard explains that based on a legal technicality known as the Santa Clause.
Bo: [00:12:13] Oh, I didn’t see that coming.
Ryan: [00:12:14] Yes, right. Written in microscopic print on the card. Scott is now the new Santa and has assumed all of Santa’s duties and obligations.
Bo: [00:12:26] Wow.
Ryan: [00:12:29] Right. I’m telling you, this is some sexy stuff.
Bo: [00:12:31] Man.
Ryan: [00:12:33] So unlike other Christmas movies where crimes are committed, this movie is squarely in our wheelhouse, right? The contract law. So that begs the question, is the Santa Clause legally enforceable?
Bo: [00:12:46] Well, I mean, it immediately springs to mind: Was there a “meeting of the minds?”
Ryan: [00:12:52] Of course. Well, I’m going to get into that. So to have a contract. You bring up a good point. You need offer, acceptance, and consideration. And really, that’s all to show. Was there a “meeting of the minds” here? The first to show that there was mutual assent to enter a contract in the first place. And consideration simply ensures that there’s some transfer of some type of value that goes both ways. In other words, that the object of the contract isn’t just simply a gratuity or a gift. Right. So if the estate of Santa tries to sue Scott Calvin for breach of contract (because remember Santa is dead at this point that Scott sees the Santa Clause), I feel pretty good about Scott’s chances of beat in the case. First, we got the offer, right?
Bo: [00:13:38] Ok, Yeah.
Ryan: [00:13:39] An offer must be clearly communicated and be capable of relaying the material terms of the deal so that the other party can simply accept or reject it. In this case, the offer was written on a business card that to the naked eye would only relay information about the reindeer. The offer itself is hidden in fine print so small that it can only be seen with a special elf made microscope.
Bo: [00:14:03] Okay, that’s a little problematic, right?
Ryan: [00:14:07] So while Santa may have intended it to be an offer, I do not know if that offer was ever properly communicated, given the size of the font. And interestingly enough, Scott had zero idea that there was this offer. He didn’t know that its existed until Bernard brought it to his attention. So Santa is also dead at this point and dead people can’t enter new contracts.
Bo: [00:14:28] That’s fair.
Ryan: [00:14:29] That’s kind of a kind of a deal breaker. Next, there’s no acceptance because Scott didn’t know that there was an offer in the first place. He had no way of accepting it. And nothing about this movie actually shows mutual assent. Very comically, the movie and Scott spend the whole time fighting the fact that he’s now become Santa. He tries shaving his face, dyeing his hair, working out as much as possible to avoid turning into Santa. He’s not he’s not accepting the fact that he is Santa. And is there a legal consideration or value? No way. You know, Scott is forced to be Santa in perpetuity, whether he likes it or not.
Bo: [00:15:11] Yeah, that does seem legally problematic.
Ryan: [00:15:14] And like, depending on on what jurisdiction applies to I think we got some 13th Amendment issues as well. That’s fair. But suffice it to say, the movie should have ended in the first act when Scott, having been told about the Santa Clause, said, Yeah, I’m not doing that. Call my lawyer.
Bo: [00:15:32] Or maybe when he startled him and he fell off the roof as he’s being questioned for manslaughter.
Ryan: [00:15:38] Exactly.
Bo: [00:15:39] So that’s a good one. Well, the Santa Clause.
Ryan: [00:15:42] And now there’s a new Disney Plus series called the Santa Clauses.
Bo: [00:15:48] Oh, boy. So we have a lot of legal issues to go through here.
Ryan: [00:15:51] Maybe, maybe next year on the Christmas episode.
Bo: [00:15:54] Fair enough. Fair enough.
Ryan: [00:15:55] So what about you, Bo? What do you got?
Bo: [00:15:56] Well, one of my favorite Christmas movies is, you know, I talked about It’s a Wonderful Life last Time, which is an old movie, but a classic. I’m going to talk about another one like that: “Miracle on 34th Street.” Okay. This has been remade many times, but I’m talking about the original, which I think is from the 1940s. Now, I love this movie because it is one of the few Christmas movies that fall squarely into the category of courtroom drama. Okay. Now, even better. The hero of the movie is a lawyer, right? It’s a man named Fred Gailey. Now, the movie involves an old man who truly believes he is Kris Kringle. He is Santa Claus. All right. Everybody, of course, thinks he’s mentally ill. The district attorney actually holds a competency hearing to have Kris Kringle admitted to an insane asylum.
Ryan: [00:16:56] Merry Christmas.
Bo: [00:16:57] That’s the plot of the movie, right? For real? So Fred Gailey decides to represent Kris to protect him from being committed. And he actually does this at great risk to his own career. His bosses don’t want him to do it. They think he’s going to look like a moron, you know, defending this crazy man who thinks he’s Santa Claus. So he actually quits his job at a law firm, opens his own practice in order to represent Santa Claus in court.
Ryan: [00:17:28] That’s hard core.
Bo: [00:17:29] I mean. All right, you’re right. So this movie actually brings up and raises a ton of really interesting legal issues. So, as you know, Ryan, we recently met Camille Vasquez in Atlanta. She was one of the attorneys for Johnny Depp in his trial with Amber Heard. And she told us there about the challenges of being a lawyer in a very high profile case. You know, and this movie actually touches on that exact subject: being a lawyer in a high profile case. For example, the judge in that movie, he discovers that his own wife and children are ashamed of him for presiding over a case where Santa Claus might get found to be mentally ill and committed. The district attorney gets it even worse. Not only does his wife glare at him in the courtroom, but Fred Gailey actually calls the district attorney’s son as a witness to testify about his belief in Santa Claus.
Ryan: [00:18:40] Ooh,
Bo: [00:18:40] Ouch. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that nothing screams you’re sleeping on the sofa on Christmas Eve as trying to put Santa in an insane asylum. You know, both the judge and the district attorney definitely get put on their family’s naughty list. I mean, no question about that. So now the primary focus of the movie, it’s the legal question of: sanity versus competency.And these are obviously real hearings that get held pretty regularly. And the movie does a pretty good job of describing the burden of proof and the elements that are required to commit someone against their will. Now, this movie takes place in New York where the laws are very similar to Georgia, most, most everywhere. Now, in order to have someone involuntarily committed, you have to show that they are a danger to themselves or others. And like in the movie, this issue is typically decided by a judge, not by a jury. Now, there are a few elements of the movie, though, that do stray a little from reality. For one thing, throughout the trial, the judge is listening to his political adviser. You know, the political adviser is giving him some pretty good advice because you don’t want to be the judge who decides that Santa Claus is crazy. All right. All right. Fair enough. You don’t have a lot of political advisers in real life, though, sitting behind judges during court hearings. That doesn’t happen a lot. Now, you probably also won’t get away with calling the child of your opposing counsel as an expert witness that typically doesn’t happen in real life either.
Ryan: [00:20:30] Yeah, that would that would start some shit.
Bo: [00:20:32] Yeah. And not to mention the fact you have to disclose your witnesses, and so on and so forth. I mean, very unlikely to happen in real life. The movie does, though, when he does call the child as a witness, the movie actually does do a pretty good job of showing what you have to do when you do call a child as a witness. You have to take them through, “do you understand the difference between the truth and a lie? Do you understand the need to tell the truth?” That type of thing. That really does happen with child witnesses, and they do that in the movie. So hats off on that part. Now, of course, as anyone who has seen the movie knows, Fred Gailey’s big legal coup is when about a dozen clerks from the post office show up, who he describes as an agency of the United States government, and they deliver sacks and sacks of undelivered letters addressed to Santa, to the courtroom, to Kris Kringle. And they they dump them all around Kris Kringle. And he’s obviously delighted because he’s receiving all of these letters addressed to Santa Claus. Well, that leads, right, to one of my favorite movie lines of all time.
Ryan: [00:21:46] Okay.
Bo: [00:21:46] That’s when the judge looks at Kris Kringle, looks at the mail, looks at his glaring family, and says, “well, since the United States government declares this man to be Santa Claus, this court will not dispute it. Case dismissed.”
Ryan: [00:22:05] Beautiful.
Bo: [00:22:06] Gets me every time. Right? Christmas classic and a true legal procedural. So what about you? What’s the next movie on your list?
Ryan: [00:22:15] That was a good one. That was a really good one. So, there’s been a trend lately. I just talked about the Santa Clauses and … I was looking up different information about that Santa Clause movie, and I pulled up a Wikipedia about the Santa Clause franchise, and there’s like three or four of those movies, plus now this series. So I think it’s part of Hollywood’s plan that they want to make a universe for everything. Right? So did you know that there’s actually three “Christmas Stories” Movies?
Bo: [00:22:51] No, I had no idea.
Ryan: [00:22:52] There’s the original Christmas story, which I’m about to talk about. There’s a Christmas Story 2, which was like straight to to DVD, and now HBOMax has a Christmas Story Christmas, which follows Ralphie in current times and age, you know, whatever, with a full family and, you know, going through life, bringing his children back to his childhood home to have Christmas.
Bo: [00:23:20] Well, if it doesn’t include Tim Allen murdering Santa, I don’t know that I want to watch it.
Ryan: [00:23:25] Yeah, fair enough. I’m talking, of course, about a Christmas Story. This classic follows eight year old Ralphie during the holiday season and the lengths he will go to get the gift of his dreams. Everybody knows what it is. Oh yeah, it’s the Red Ryder Carbine action 200 Shot Range Model Air Rifle.
Bo: [00:23:46] Oh, man. Who could forget?
Ryan: [00:23:48] Just rolls off the tongue. Well, his dreams of having a baby gun under the tree are thwarted when his mom famously tells him, “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
Bo: [00:24:00] And whose mom didn’t tell that? Let’s be honest. Yeah.
Ryan: [00:24:04] I mean, I. I certainly asked for a BB gun, and I got pretty much the same exact response. But in putting this movie up for legal review, it seems like just about every character has some lawsuit coming their way.
Bo: [00:24:17] All right.
Ryan: [00:24:19] Ralphie’s friend Flick, right? They’re out in the playground, and he gets triple dog dared to put his tongue on the flagpole in the middle of the winter in, like, Minnesota.
Bo: [00:24:32] Right. I mean, triple dog dares are pretty legally binding.
Ryan: [00:24:36] That’s true. I mean, I didn’t even think about that. But yeah, good point. So you’ve got some issues with the kids that are actually bullying and daring him to do this. But my question is, where are the teachers to supervise this playground incident? Why didn’t anybody make sure that the children all returned from recess into the classroom? Because we see the tongue hitting the flagpole and the next thing we know, all the kids are back in their class staring at at Flick, not saying anything. And he’s out there freezing to death. And then finally the teacher is like: Oh, shit, we lost one.
Bo: [00:25:11] Well, maybe little known fact. The teacher’s actually Kevin McAllister’s mother. Yeah. Yeah.
Ryan: [00:25:18] Might. Might be. So today, you know, those parents would definitely be suing the teacher, the school, and the entire school district for negligent supervision.
Bo: [00:25:26] Absolutely.
Ryan: [00:25:28] That brings me to child abandonment, right? What? Christmas movie is complete without a little bit of child abandonment? It’s the whole premise of Home Alone.
Bo: [00:25:37] Yeah, fair enough.
Ryan: [00:25:39] And the Polar Express, you know, these kids just go off on their own. I mean, everybody’s just like, go ahead. We’ll leave them. You can take them. Merry Christmas. So. What’s the deal with Ralphie’s parents leaving him and his little brother in line all by themselves to see the department store Santa? You go to this department store, it’s packed with people. There’s this super long line that they’re trying to go see this creepy Santa before it closes. And the parents just say, All right, here you go. Ralphie’s eight. His younger brother is at least two, three years younger than him. The parents just leave them in this big department store. Child Services would definitely have something to say about that.
Bo: [00:26:23] Man. It’s like, All right, you can’t have that gun because you could hurt your eye. Now getting abducted, that’s fine. You’ll be good.
Ryan: [00:26:31] He’ll be fine. He’s not that cute. And what about Santa himself? After this terrifying man sees each child, he sends them screaming and plummeting down a sketchy slide with a swift boot to the face.
Bo: [00:26:46] Okay.
Ryan: [00:26:47] Tack on battery to an already obvious premises liability action. Just waiting to happen.
Bo: [00:26:53] Yeah, absolutely.
Ryan: [00:26:55] Next. Everyone in the movie keeps telling Ralphie that he’s going to shoot his eye out if he gets a BB gun. His mom, his teachers, Santa. Everyone keeps telling him, So what if his parents do They buy him the BB gun.
Bo: [00:27:09] Obviously.
Ryan: [00:27:10] And what happens next? He takes it out. He enters himself when he shoots his BB gun unsupervised, ricochets and hits them right in the eye. So this made me think about different BB gun and air gun laws in the states. And they differ from state to state, but there are at least a dozen city ordinances in this state that forbid parents from allowing children to use them altogether and for good reason. Right. In fact, even crazier, did you know that within the city limits of Atlanta, it is illegal for anyone to discharge a BB gun, air gun, or slingshot?
Bo: [00:27:48] Seriously?
Ryan: [00:27:50] Yep. It’s it’s still on the books. So, anyone listening: If you think that that stick rock and rubber band would make a sweet, sweet slingshot. Think again. It’s illegal.
Bo: [00:28:02] Wow.
Ryan: [00:28:04] That blew my mind. Anyway …
Bo: [00:28:06] Well you know who that makes happy: Goliath, of course.
Ryan: [00:28:12] Lastly, after the neighbor’s dogs break in and eviscerate the family’s roast turkey on Christmas Day, Ralphie and his family find themselves at this Chinese restaurant where the servers bring out a roasted duck. You remember this? The the closing scenes.
Bo: [00:28:28] Of course.
Ryan: [00:28:29] Well, when Ralphie’s dad says he’s smiling at me, referring to the head that’s still on this roast duck, the chef pulls out a cleaver and lops the duck’s head off right in front of everybody. Inches from his dad’s hand and everybody else. So you would be shut down so fast by the health department? Faster than you can say, “Santa’s got a brand new bag.”
Bo: [00:28:54] Absolutely, man. Well, I have to say, that’s a good job of running down the legal issues of a Christmas Story, Ryan.
Ryan: [00:29:03] Do what I can.
Bo: [00:29:04] So. Well, let me talk about a movie that is rapidly, I think, achieving cult status, which is: Bad Santa.
Ryan: [00:29:13] That’s a great one now.
Bo: [00:29:15] Bad Santa stars Billy Bob Thornton. And I mean, it’s caused some controversy just on its own over the years. I mean, the whole point of this movie is that Billy Bob Thornton plays this, you know, sex crazed, foul mouthed Santa Claus who delights in telling children that he doesn’t exist. You know, and I mean, he’s violent. He’s constantly drunk. He’s a thief. I mean, he commits multiple crimes all throughout the movie, but there’s no reason to list them because that’s kind of the point of the movie that he’s, you know, bad Santa. Yeah. So but that’s just the obvious stuff. I want to talk about a different legal issue that I find raised masterfully by this movie, and that is the art of negotiation. So now negotiation, that’s a huge part of being a lawyer. It happens every day and there’s many different styles, there’s many different approaches, and the best lawyers are the ones that can adjust their style to the circumstances so they can get the outcome that they’re seeking. Now, there’s a great scene in Bad Santa where the head of mall security named Gin, played by Bernie Mac, has discovered that Willy (Bad Santa, Billy Bob Thornton) and his foul mouthed little elf Marcus, they’re actually con men and they rob a different mall every year. Now, he also finds out that they have targeted his mall this Christmas. So rather than expose them and call the police and have them arrested instead, Jen demands a cut of the take. This year I’ll look the other way. So basically gives them an option.  I can call the police, you can go to jail and get nothing; or  you can cut me in, I’ll look the other way and you know, everybody just goes their merry way.
Bo: [00:31:14] So that’s when the negotiation begins. On what is Jen’s cut going to be? Okay. And this is how the negotiations between Gin and Marcus go down. How much do you want? Half. No way. We’ll give you 30%. There’s three of us. 30%. That’s fair. Half Ok. I mean, 33%? Half. And a third? Half. You can see where this is going. 35%? Half. 40%? Half. 42%. Half. 45%. Let me think about it. Half. 48%. Half. 49%. Half. Well, you know, obviously, what you have here, Ryan, are two completely different negotiation styles. Marcus, the elf, believes that negotiating. Is starting with a very unrealistic initial demand and then meeting somewhere in the middle. That’s generally called the meet me halfway method of negotiation. Now, Gin, on the other hand, simply starts with what he determined was a fair position and he refuses to move from it. Well, there’s a key factor here. Jen has all of the leverage in this negotiation 100%. If he calls the police and exposes the scam of the con, Willie and Marcus are going to get arrested, they’re going to go to jail. They’re not getting anything. So that’s why his negotiating strategy ultimately prevails here. Now, we have found in our legal practice that when we’re dealing with the other side, many times almost invariably they think of negotiation as the meet me halfway process. But in reality, I mean, I really believe that approach is pretty inefficient and it’s actually illogical in some ways.
Bo: [00:33:24] I mean, think about it like this. I mean, it’s inefficient because if initial negotiations are premised on each side, bluffing the other, you know, I mean, rather than convincing the other person to the merits of their position, doesn’t really get you anywhere. You know, I mean, you’re not getting to the heart of the matter, but it’s also kind of illogical because the halfway point can be completely manipulated. Let’s say you’ve got a case worth $5,000. Well, you could say we’re going to start at 10,000 and negotiate down to five. Or you could say we’re going to start at $10 billion, and the halfway point is going to be $5 billion. Right. So, you know, it’s kind of silly. You know, nothing about a client’s case becomes more valuable because you start with an initial ridiculous demand. So I would pause, posit … Ryan, let me say that over, because it sounded like I said “pause it” like pause the thing. So. I’m going to start back after ridiculous demand. All right… So I would posit, Ryan, that starting with a defensible demand and remaining put until the other side gives you an actual reason to move, and that could be anything, but that’s just simply a smart negotiation strategy, you know, And we see it put to use here perfectly in Bad Santa, you know. So who knew that a corrupt security guard negotiating with a drunken mall Santa could offer a master class in negotiation strategy? But there you go. Right.
Ryan: [00:35:06] Oh, good point. I like it. So this next movie. Kind of controversial is whether or not it’s a Christmas movie or not. And it happens. I’m talking, of course, about Gremlins. I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. Not doing Gremlins. But there was a couple of movies that I keep seeing on Christmas list and I’m like, that’s not a Christmas movie. Harry Potter, for example. All those movies are in the list of check out these Christmas movies. They’re just movies that Christmas happens at some point in the series. That’s fair. That’s not a Christmas movie.
Bo: [00:35:42] They do cover a school year, which does include Christmas. Right.
Ryan: [00:35:47] Also covers Halloween.
Bo: [00:35:49] And there are a lot of witches.
Ryan: [00:35:51] That’s right. Which probably a good segue into this next pick, which is the Nightmare Before Christmas. It kind of straddles the fence between a Halloween movie and a Christmas movie.
Bo: [00:36:03] Yeah, absolutely.
Ryan: [00:36:04] I mean, valid on on both points. But you got Christmas in the title. So let’s just go with the writers intent.
Bo: [00:36:12] Right. All right. Fair enough.
Ryan: [00:36:13] So this part Halloween movie, part Christmas movie follows the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, Jack Skellington as he grows bored with Halloween and wanders off into the forest to find other holiday themed worlds. And once he discovers Christmas Town, he becomes fascinated with its novelties and peculiarities.
Bo: [00:36:41] I can’t say the f***ing word.
Ryan: [00:36:43] Once he discovers Christmas Town, he becomes fascinated with its novelties and decides the citizens of Halloween Town must take it over. So there’s two major crimes committed in this epic Tim Burton fashion, which is kidnapping and criminal impersonation.
Bo: [00:37:02] All right.
Ryan: [00:37:03] Well, you’re probably going to guess who who might be kidnapped in this Christmas movie. Hmm. I don’t know.
Bo: [00:37:10] Someone wants to take over for Santa, but I have no idea. Where is this going?
Ryan: [00:37:15] OK, well, this is going to come as a shock. While going over his naughty and nice list, Santa himself is kidnapped.
Bo: [00:37:25] No.
Ryan: [00:37:25] Yes. By Lock, Shock and Barrel, who are under the orders of Jack Skellington.
Bo: [00:37:34] Man.
Ryan: [00:37:35] Because Jack orchestrated the kidnapping, he would doubtlessly be charged with co-conspirator. And kidnapping, of course, is the unlawful taking and holding of another against his or her will. And he holds Santa in Halloweentown for a very long time while he lives out his dreams of being Santa Claus. Then this is where things get a little interesting. Santa Claus is absolutely the head of this fictional Christmas Town, so any attempt of Jack to impersonate him brings with it some serious penalties of criminal impersonation of a public official.
Bo: [00:38:16] Oh, I see where you’re going.
Ryan: [00:38:18] In Georgia, this little stunt of holding himself out as Santa to to mislead others carries with it a maximum five year prison sentence that he can tack on to his already 10 to 20 years for kidnapping. By the end of the movie, he realizes the errors in his ways. He releases Santa and tries to make things right. Does that help Jack at all? Now we know the answer to that. Again, it wouldn’t affect his criminal culpability. At best. It’s going to be used as evidence to lessen his sentence.
Bo: [00:38:50] Man. Another Christmas movie about outlaws.
Ryan: [00:38:55] I mean, who would have thought?
Bo: [00:38:57] Well, you know, you do talk about “is something a Christmas movie or not? So let’s end with the grandfather of, “Is it a Christmas movie or not?”
Ryan: [00:39:08] I can see where it’s going.
Bo: [00:39:09] And I’m talking about, of course, Die Hard. So let’s talk about the real question that comes up every year. Is Die Hard a Christmas movie, or is it simply an action movie that happens to be set at Christmas? Where do you land on this, Ryan?
Ryan: [00:39:29] I got to say, I got to say Christmas movie. You know, it’s. If if nothing else, everybody watches it on Christmas, you know, like it’s just a Christmas movie.
Bo: [00:39:39] Well, let me give you my thought on this. I’ll walk you through. My first instinct to say was to say, no, this is not a Christmas movie for a couple of reasons. I get that the events in the movie take place on Christmas Eve, but it’s certainly not a movie about the holiday season in any way. And to me, the biggest strike against it being considered a Christmas movie is that it was released in the summer of 1988.
Ryan: [00:40:07] Oh.
Bo: [00:40:08] You know, most true Christmas movies do get released during the holiday season. Now, I also saw an interview with the director, John McTiernan, in which he had he admitted he did not intend it to be a Christmas movie. So at that point I’m thinking pretty much case closed. This is not a Christmas movie. But there were some other factors that changed my mind. First of all, in that same interview, John McTiernan went on to say that he actually, though he didn’t intend it to be a Christmas movie, he does now believe it is a Christmas movie. He said that there was so much joy involved with it, from the cast to the crew to the audiences watching it, that the joy is what for him turned it into a Christmas movie. And I mean, I think I kind of agree with that. But there’s some other more kind of obvious factors as well. The holiday party in the building is a huge part of the plot of the movie.
Bo: [00:41:12] It also has Christmas music throughout the movie. A big sign you’re watching a Christmas movie. All right. Then you have the fact that John Mcclane’s wife, what’s her name, Ryan? Holly.
Ryan: [00:41:28] Oh,
Bo: [00:41:30] Come on. You can’t tell me that’s a coincidence. You have people buying presents for each other in the movie. Remember, Holly gets a Rolex from her boss at the Christmas party. And more importantly, Al, the cop buys his wife’s snack cakes at the convenience store. So then, going on from there, you’ve got John McClane sending the body of a terrorist down the elevator wearing a Santa hat, and if you remember, has a sign around his neck that says, “Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho!” Finally, to me, the capper that puts it firmly into Christmas movie territory: it snows at the end of the movie.
Ryan: [00:42:19] Yes.
Bo: [00:42:19] Now. It Does it snow in Los Angeles, period, though the last time there was an actual snowstorm in Los Angeles other than just a few isolated flurries was 1962. That’s right.
Ryan: [00:42:37] Wow.
Bo: [00:42:37] 60 years ago. So now you have your obligatory Christmas miracle at the end of the movie. So I’m going with: Yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Well, not to mention, like you said, the huge number of people that actually watch it at Christmas. So I’m calling it Christmas movie.
Ryan: [00:43:00] You’re right, man.
Bo: [00:43:01] Well, that brings me to the legal issue, I think, that always kind of consumes me when I watch Die Hard. And I really tried to analyze it this year. And that is, you know, people may not know this: John McClane is played by Bruce Willis, but people may not realize that’s actually his very first movie role as an action star, you know, And he only got it because it was turned down by dozens of other actors. So, you know, in this movie, he’s visiting his wife at Christmas in her office when terrorists take over the building. Now, over the course of the movie, he kills the terrorists one by one and saves the day. So what always bothered me about this movie, considering how many people he actually kills, would John McClane in real life, would he have been charged with murder at the end of this movie?
Ryan: [00:44:01] Huh?
Bo: [00:44:01] So. I spent the whole last episode obviously talking about how many crimes people committed and how long they’d go to jail in real life. But in this case, I actually think the answer is no, he absolutely would not. And I base that on four reasons. First, he’s a damn hero. I mean, he saved the lives of the hostages. He thwarted the terrorist plans to blow up this building and kill everyone. There is no way in real life any district attorney is going to risk his or her job attempting to try this guy for murder. Just not going to happen. And even if they did, come on, a jury is going to end in an acquittal. I mean, no one is going to find that guy guilty. Just it’s not going to happen. But next, you’ve got the fact, remember, John McClane is a police officer. Now, that fact alone would have cleared him of a lot of responsibilities for the killings he committed during the takeover. He’s doing his job. Third, you have–and I think this is actually crucial–the manner in which he kills the terrorists. If you watch the movie carefully, you will see that John McClane never just simply kills someone in cold blood. Every time he uses deadly force, the film clearly demonstrates that he has a clear legal justification for doing so. And then finally, a very practical reason, is because anyone that could actually testify against him is now dead. Theo is the only terrorist left alive at the end of the film, and he never actually witnessed any of John McClain’s actions. So there is no one left to testify against him, even if someone did decide to press charges. So my hot legal take on Die Hard is that it is a Christmas movie and John McClane would not be prosecuted for murder. So he’ll get to go home with Holly and have a very merry Christmas.
Ryan: [00:46:12] You mean kind of like how the Bowen Law Group wishes all of our clients, friends, families, and listeners a very happy holiday season.
Bo: [00:46:19] Exactly, Ryan. And why we thank them for allowing us to do what we do, which is, of course, being the most successful lawyers in the history of human jurisprudence … Allegedly.
Ryan: [00:46:32] Well, that’s our show for today. We hope you enjoyed our take on Christmas movies. Tune in next time where we’ll bring you our countdown of the biggest legal developments and issues of 2022, all guaranteed to be 100% true … Allegedly. Thanks for listening to the legal mastery of the highly intelligent and easily most attractive true legal outlawyers in Savannah. And remember, the only lawyers in the free world who’ve never lost a single case …
Bo: [00:46:55] allegedly.
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