Kevin: If you’ve ever lived in more than a few places, you’ve probably had at least one experience with what you thought were the neighbors from hell: All night parties, barking dogs, fights over fence lines, front yards that looked like garbage dumps. But no matter how bad you thought you had it, it’s doubtful you’d want to trade places with the poor bastards who’ve shared a street with the family of Sgt. Roger Murtaugh, and who after dealing with numerous shootings, explosions, and fires over four “Lethal Weapon” movies have probably decided they’re too old for this shit as well.
Let’s take a look through the various films at what the people who lived near the Murtaughs had to endure over the years:
Here is our first shot of the Murtaughs’ home, what looks to be a two-story 4 bedroom/3 bath in a nice suburban neighborhood where they still apparently have morning milkman deliveries. Take note because this will be the most peace this neighborhood will ever have for the next several years:
Before I go further, we noted in our “Lethal Weapon” Round Table about how bizarre and kind of creepy it is that Roger’s family bursts in on him with a cake and singing “Happy Birthday” while he’s taking a bath, not knowing what he’d be doing in there or if he might be getting out while they intruded on his private time. But looking at it again closely it’s even more disturbing, because while in my memory I always assumed he had a lot of bubbles in his bath to cover his junk, as we can see this water is pretty clear:
It can’t be said enough, the Murtaughs are a family with some serious boundary issues. Also now that I think about it, what grown man takes a long luxurious bath BEFORE going into work? I can’t think of a time where I was like, “Well I could get an extra hour of sleep before work, or I could get into a bubble bath and really relax myself before spending another hour in traffic.”
Also note that when Roger first comes downstairs later, it appears that they are doing some work to their kitchen, including taking out part of a wall, something that as far as I can tell is never brought up at all in the movie. Based on what happens later, I wonder if Roger sneakily tried to get this covered in his report to the insurance company later:
Either way, near the end of the movie Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey) manages to get away from Riggs and heads to Murtaugh’s house for revenge (not sure why though since he’s a mercenary who doesn’t really have a personal vendetta against them, and even if he did the smart play would be to lay low and take them out later). Even though Riggs and Murtaugh suspect he’s coming to the house there are only two cops stationed outside, who Joshua easily guns down, causing their car to knock over a fire hydrant and drench water all over Roger’s yard. Joshua busts in spraying automatic fire, but all he finds is an empty house and a Christmas tree in the living room with a note saying “Dear Bad Guys. No one here but us cops. Sorry! The Good Guys.”
Joshua is barely done reading it when the cop car crashes into the living room and takes out the tree, at which point Riggs comes around from outside the house with a gun. So let me get this straight: Riggs and Murtaugh knew Joshua was coming to the house and got there early enough to get Roger’s family out of there. They then decided that the best course of action would be to not alert any other cops, write up a smart-ass note and tape it to the tree, let a couple of cops get killed, and then rather than just hide inside the house and shoot Joshua when he ran out of bullets, they decide to wait until he’s read their hilarious note and then drive a cop car into Roger’s living room for no good reason.
At which point Riggs and Joshua engage in a long fight surrounded by dozens of cops and spotlighted by a police helicopter, ending with Joshua being gunned down on Roger’s yard. Merry Christmas everyone! I hope Roger warned the rest of his neighbors about the potential war zone that their block was going to turn into beforehand, but if not I’m guessing he did not get a lot of New Year’s invites that year.
“Lethal Weapon 2”
Same house as before, but while the damage to the living room from the first movie has apparently been repaired, Roger is now doing a major add-on to his garage that he is turning into his “hobby room”:
Not sure what a “hobby room” is (I suspect that’s where he’s planning on watching porn), but either way I can’t imagine in Los Angeles it was super easy getting those permits, especially since the city inspectors would probably suspect he’s actually trying to convert that space into a guest house to make some rental income behind their back.
That’s going to be the least of Roger’s worries though, after the South African bad guys wire his toilet to explode as soon as he sat down to take a shit (apparently it wasn’t wired to go off any of the earlier times his wife presumably sat down on it to pee before he got on it). Roger makes it out alive, although the explosion takes out a good chunk of his house, while his neighbors likely had to evacuate beforehand (and they barely have time to enjoy some peace and quiet before the cops converge again on Roger’s house after he kills two guys with a nail gun later).
Actually “Lethal Weapon 2” really seems to take pleasure in destroying the property of its main characters. In addition to the damage to Roger’s house, Riggs’ awesome mobile home by the beach (which I can’t image was parked there legally by the way) is completely destroyed by the bad guys, while Riggs returns the favor by taking out the house-on-stilts of the main villain so easily that I imagine whatever inspector signed off on that place is gonna have some answering to do:
“Lethal Weapon 3”
Unbelievably nothing happens to Roger’s house in this movie. But even more unbelievably, he’s trying to sell the house and he’s hired Leo Getz (Joe Pesci) to be his realtor. Yes that’s right, the same Leo Getz who was hiding from assassins while in witness protection in “Lethal Weapon 2” is now somehow out in the open and using his real name and picture in advertisements as a realtor in Los Angeles, and for some reason Roger has hired him to sell his house even though from everything we see Roger can’t stand him. This leads to a “hilarious” scene where Leo is showing the house to prospective buyers, while Roger fumes in the kitchen as Leo informs the couple about all the shit that has occurred in the house in the previous two movies.
Although I don’t know what is more unprofessional, Leo giving up that information (which for all I know he may be legally required to do), or Roger and family hiding in the kitchen while the prospective buyers are touring the place (did they think they would not want to go into kitchen at all during their tour?). Either way, the couple bolts after walking into the kitchen and seeing this scandalous display between two men:
Now even though Roger’s house is spared, this wouldn’t be a “Lethal Weapon” film unless someone’s dream home was destroyed, which is why at the end Riggs and Murtaugh burn down the under-construction housing development owned by main villain Jack Travis (Stuart Wilson). Why this gun-running psychopath is so focused on creating a family friendly suburban community outside of Los Angeles is never clear in the movie, other than the fact that in real life the actual developers got under water, ran out of money, and let the filmmakers destroy their project on film since it was scheduled for demolition anyway.
Actually there is a lot about bad guy Travis that makes no sense, including the fact that he is an apparently well-known corrupt ex-cop who is caught on camera early on murdering a suspect, then is seen by an entire arena (and presumably the folks watching the game at home) escaping on the ice from Riggs and Murtaugh during an L.A. Kings game, and he also owns a large public construction firm named Mesa Verde. Yet he makes no effort to go into hiding, walks around in public in broad daylight, but no one apparently can find him. Although despite being a remorseless sociopath, he’s still not even close to being the most evil contractor you’ll ever deal with.
Post Script: While we never actually see any damage to the Murtaugh house in this one, I’m gonna assume that the friends of the gangbanger Roger kills in the film will come back and shoot up the house off screen later.
“Lethal Weapon 4”
Coming six years after the last installment and with Roger nearing 62 and presumably close to finally retiring, you can imagine that his neighbors probably got complacent thinking that all the drama surrounding the Murtaugh family was in the past. Big mistake. Roger secretly hides a Chinese family being targeted by Jet Li, who finds and kidnaps them and burns down Roger’s house in retaliation.
Now Roger and family survive, and as we learn later he has plenty of money to rebuild thanks to his wife Trish’s never-before-mentioned side gig as popular romance novelist “Ebony Clark.” But for the sake of the neighborhood maybe he and Trish should retire to Florida and leave their neighbors in peace.
I can only imagine what the multiple killings, explosions, gang retaliation, and nearly constant police presence on the Murtaugh property have done to the home values in the neighborhood, as well as Roger’s insurance rates. For an answer to that I turn to my old buddy Rich, who has worked in the insurance industry and has been buying and selling homes in the Austin real estate market for the last 15 years:
Rich: Since I have a lot of experience in this area, I’ll go through each movie and see whether or not the damage to Roger’s home would be covered by his insurance:
The relevant policy exclusion for driving a car into one’s living room would be “intentional acts”- i.e. “any loss arising out of any act you or any person named as an additional insured commits or conspires to commit with the intent to cause a loss.”
At first glance it appears that driving a car into one’s own living room would not be covered due to the “intentional acts” exclusion. But wait, first we have to prove that it was Murtaugh who did it and not Riggs. If Murtaugh was involved we also have to prove he knew that putting a nightstick on the accelerator and aiming the vehicle carefully at his living room would result in damage to the house. Easy right? Actually no.
True story: A guy was dating a stripper and she found out he was cheating on her. She pulled her vehicle up behind his Mustang in the driveway, eased it until they were bumper to bumper and then floored it, driving his pussy wagon vehicle into his living room. My company insured the stripper and tried to deny damage to the house under “intentional acts.” Unfortunately she was able to prove she was so doped up on prescription meds that she didn’t realize what she was doing.
So Murtaugh could argue that because of the situation, he wasn’t of sound mind and didn’t realize the consequences of his actions, or maybe he could try arguing that he was high on PCP. I’d still stick with the “Riggs did it” story, if at all possible.
We also have car insurance and homeowner’s insurance involved, so the odds of an adjuster covering the loss increases significantly.
Lastly, let’s point out that Riggs lost his wife in a car crash, so he probably has a good working knowledge of insurance claims.
Conclusion: Covered Loss
“Lethal Weapon 2”
The relevant policy exclusion for the toilet bomb would be “war,” which includes any of the following and any consequence of any of the following:
- a) “undeclared war, civil war, insurrection, rebellion or revolution”
- b) “warlike act by a military force or military personnel”
- c) “destruction or seizure or use for a military purpose”
A discharge of nuclear weapons will be deemed an act of war even if accidental. In the case of the toilet bomb I think we have a very strong argument for the “war” exclusion (6b), since the people who planted the bomb had military training and were possibly acting under orders of the South African consulate.
I feel like there’s some low-hanging fruit to be had regarding a toilet/nuclear discharge joke, but either way …
Conclusion: Coverage Denied … or “Coverage has just been revoked!” as Murtaugh might say.
“Lethal Weapon 3”
Let’s talk realtors and disclosure.
Licensed realtors are required to let any potential buyer know about “unnatural deaths” that have occurred in the property. So you do need to let people know about the nail gun killing, but are not required to disclose that Mel Gibson triangle-choked Gary Busey on the front lawn a full six years before the UFC existed and anyone had heard of Brazilian jujitsu.
It would be appropriate to refer the now-repaired damage from the previous movies as “renovations” or “updates” without having to give much more detail than that. Plus, we also know they were doing a kitchen renovation in the first film. Frankly, if priced correctly the home should have sold quickly.
“Lethal Weapon 4”
The Chinese Triad burns down your house:
Conclusion: Completely 100% covered.
This is pretty much exactly why Lloyd’s of London invented insurance.