Last Action Hero


Roaming the internet, I stumbled upon this forgotten movie.  Being an ardent Arnold fan, I was surprised I’d never seen it, much less heard of it.  I soon discovered it was apparently a big flop, perhaps a bane of film critics everywhere.  But I was intrigued and gave it a shot.

Perhaps surprisingly, I really liked it.  I wouldn’t put it on my top movies of all time, but I definitely think it was underrated and underappreciated.  The ironic thing is that I believe I thoroughly enjoy this movie precisely because I love Schwarzenegger movies; this film lovingly acknowledges – and mocks – the entire Schwarzenegger schtick.  Perhaps this is something Schwarzenegger fans would most appreciate.

The gist of the movie, without wanting to spoil anything, but spoiler alert just in case, is that Schwarzenegger is his character, a Jack Slater, and that a boy from the real world gets sucked into the fictional movie-world that is action movies.  Hence every over-the-top moment, every cliché, every one-liner associated with action flicks, and Schwarzenegger flicks in particular, is satirized and exploited.  For example, everything explodes, Hollywood style.  everything.  You bump into a building, it explodes.  The cars in car chases magically careen through the air.  The characters speak in one-liners.  And the “real” boy is set out trying to prove that this world is fictional, and that Jack Slater is a character.

I thought there were several humorous moments in this film.  True, many bits fall flat, but many did elicit a chuckle.  (Notice how all the women in Action-Movie-Land are models, and their over-the-top racy outfits continue to become ever more exaggerated as the film progresses.)

Oddly enough, this film reminds me of Being John Malkovich.  If Being John Malkovich was a fourth-wall-breaking movie about John Malkovich making a movie about himself and the character-type he plays (the real John Malkovich and the character of John Malkovich), made in the style of John Malkovich (smart, twisted, weird, bizarre), then Last Action Hero is a fourth-wall-breaking movie by Schwarzenegger about the character of Arnold Schwarzenegger from the perspective and style of most Schwarzenegger films (intentionally not high brow, over the top, explosion-packed, one-liner infused, action-comedies).*

(Of course, I think the absolute reigning king of actor best able to mock himself like no one else can is William Shatner.  If you need proof, just one example is that he rode into his own roast on a horse and then, after the guests failed to sufficiently mock him with the wealth of fodder that exists, Shatner then proceeded to roast himself.)

Don’t get me wrong, Last Action Hero is no Being John Malkovich.  At the sake of its own plot, Last Action Hero doesn’t take the time, nor has the depth, to really contemplate a character realizing he is fictional, nor truly does an effective job at making the “real world” in this film all that distinguishable from Action-Movie-Land (which somewhat defeats the point).  The few scenes where they attempt to round out Slater’s character fail, and possibly the best attempt at this, right at the end, is offscreen and barely audible as attention is focused on the boy instead.  But, then again, this movie isn’t trying to be high concept (I think), or at least I don’t think it is supposed to be.

I think, if you loved all those Schwarzenegger films and want to see an odd little film that literally acknowledges Schwarzenegger as a one-dimensional one-liner toting action hero and has fun pointing out clichés, with a little bit of fourth wall humor, then you might enjoy this movie.


author’s note: I’m not trying to suddenly shift this blog into that of film critic.  My usual topics, rants, have tended to be overly serious and political.  Which is, for me at least, tiresome, frustrating, and depressing more often than not.  I happened to watch this movie this afternoon and thought I’d share my two cents.  Maybe try something different, more lighthearted, for a change.

* I don’t think this is the plot to Malkovich, more of an analogy.


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