Sunday, November 4, 2007

Daniel Larusso Turns 46, A Tribute

(DISCLAIMER: Yes, I realize November 4, 2007, marks the 46th birthday of Ralph Macchio, the actor who played Daniel Larusso, but let's face it -- Macchio is known for one thing. It's not his role as Jeremy "Jump the Shark" Andretti in "Eight is Enough", it's not his stirring performance as Eddie Pilikian in "Teachers", nor is it his unthinkable return to the big screen in 1992 as Billy Gambini in "My Cousin Vinny". No, Ralph Macchio is Daniel Larusso; Daniel Larusso is Ralph Macchio. The two are inextricably linked. And therefore, when it comes time to pay tribute to the genius that is Macchio, I shall forego all of his peripheral thespian feats and honor the most unlikely bad ass of all time -- Daniel-san.)


And with those six magical words, Daniel Larusso channeled his inner Willis Reed and a hero was born. Perhaps the most unlikely hero since a whiny little bitch named Luke Skywalker managed to save a galaxy far, far away from Sith-induced peril. I will always remember where I was when Daniel-san's foot of fury introduced itself to the jaw of Johnny Lawrence, thus blowing up the karate Death Star that was the Cobra Kai. (I was in a movie theater somewhere in Connecticut, probably eating something.) It was one of the seminal sports moments of the 1980's, right up there with Danny Noonan knocking down the putt at Bushwood and Rocky Balboa recapturing heavyweight gold from Clubber Lang. I mean, mere moments before the crane kick, Larusso was being fitted for a body bag, for crying out loud!

As if life didn't deal him a bad enough hand by making him unathletic and somewhat effeminate, it always seemed as though Daniel-san tried to inject a degree of difficulty into everything he did, like God was handing out style points that he could somehow use as currency later on in life. Examples of "Dan-sanity" (Daniel-san meets insanity):

- After enduring several beatdowns at the hand of Cobra Kai, D-san decides that revenge is a dish best served wet and drops a running hose into a bathroom stall where Johnny Lawrence is toking up some hippy lettuce. This of course leads to all five Cobra Kai chasing him down and laying a beatdown on him. Shockingly, D-san was unable to get to a full sprint in the ultra-clumsy"walking shower" get up that Mr. Miyagi concocted for him. (Why not try and escape them with a piano on your back next time, Daniel-san?) Fortunately, Miyagi atoned for his horrific costume-inventing skills by plundering all five Cobra Kai before they put D-san into a coma.

- Daniel-san gives Miyagi's house an entire home makeover at no charge under the guise of "this is teaching me about karate". Very believable. Of course, without this plot element, "wax on wax off" fails to become part of the American male lexicon, which would have been a shame.

- Daniel-san somehow managed to almost get to second base with Elisabeth Shue despite the following:

  1. His best friend is a 70-something janitor who speaks in one word grunts of broken English.

  2. He routinely gets his ass kicked at school. We're talking like daily.

  3. He's a dead ringer for the chick in "Just One of the Guys" after she cut her hair and dressed up like a gay dude.

  4. His mom drives him on dates.

  5. His mom drives a car that makes Clark Griswold's family truckster look like a BMW 7 series.

  6. He dresses like like he just got done valet parking cars at Maggiano's (complete with white on white outfit and red windbreaker).

- When offered a chance to choose a free car from a row of cars in his backyard by Miyagi, Daniel-san chooses the one that is the same color as Big Bird on Sesame Street. Of course, he does.

(It's worth noting here that I would pay big bucks for an exclusive interview with the character of Mrs. Larusso. Among the questions I'd ask her would be "Did it ever concern you that your son might be getting molested by a 70-something janitor when the old man (a) decided to give your son a free car, (b) decided to teach your son karate at no charge, (c) managed to convince your son to do menial household chores for a few weeks as part of said training, and (d) seemingly has no other friends (and your son doesn't either)? Just wondering." Alng those lines, I think this picture says it all...)

"Daniel-san, now do sand the floor."

But in the end, no matter what obstacles life put in his way (or that he decided to put in his own way just for fun), Daniel-san would inexplicably beat the odds. In the end, he got the girl, he got the trophy, and he got the canary yellow convertible sled. (Fortunately, Karate Kid II restores some semblance of order when we find out Ali (Elisabeth Shue) broke up with him at the prom and crashed the Mello Yello Mobile.)

So on this glorious day, D-san, we honor you ... Happy 46th birthday! And BANZAI!!!!


Dropkick said...

Boyce, I mean Season - Awesome tribute to Daniel-san! Forgot that Chris Arnold was quite a karate pro before his roofing career began. I will be downloading the latest No More Kings today....keep up the great work. Sounds like you and Jonathan are kicking some butt. Talk soon. - Chris

PaddyTheGreek said...

You forgot "As himself," (Entourage, 2005)

America: Land of Second Chances

Anonymous said...

The chick in "Just One of The Guys"
1. was hot in a red Bikini
2. had large brests
3. showed those brests to the world on the beach(maybe most inportant)

please don't ruin this important teenage movie for me by comparing Danielson to her.
Thanks Jeremy

airelav said...

HA! That chick was Daniel-son! It all makes sense. The squeaky voice after Daniel-son's mom asked him what's wrong, the short pants and wanting to play video games with Ms. Shue.


MasDarv said...

Serious question...

While waiting in line to get into a club, which person would be more embarassing to have cut you in line, go to the bouncer, and they be immediately let in while you stand in line: Ralph Macchio or Dustin Diamond?

Note: We aren't talking about Daniel-son here. We're talking about Ralph.

Love the blog,

Sean said...

Masoud -

I'd have to say Ralph Macchio would be a bigger embarassment. I mean, at least Dustin Diamond has a sex tape out there. We really have no tangible proof that Ralph Macchio has ever gotten laid. Getting cut in line by a virgin would be subpar.


Gordo said...

If either one of those A-holes tried to cut in front of me while I was waiting in line to get in anywhere, I would tell both of those has-been's to wait in line like everybody else. I would do what Robert Downey Jr. did to William Zabatka in "Back to School". "Take a hike you eletist fraternity scumbag". Why should I wait on either of them. At least I have a job.

MasDarv said...

I never saw the whole Dustin Diamond sextape, but from what I did see, I got the impression that we MAY BE witnessing this guy losing his virginity. All the comments sounded along the lines of "Oh! That's what that thing does!" and "I'm so glad I'm getting this on tape so people will believe me." One hundred bucks says that he picked those chicks up in the LA equivalent of a Denny's in Clute, Texas.