Saturday, November 8, 2014
The Last Action Hero
The Last Action Hero was a flop when it was released in 1993, and at the time even the critics didn't like it. I never understood why. It's one of the cleverest, funniest films I've ever seen.
Audiences seem to prefer the dull, predictable True Lies, which was released the next year. (Which I also don't understand.)
The Last Action Hero is both a satire of action films and an homage to them. That's a tricky balancing act, but the movie pulls it off. It has dozens of beautiful women, over the top villains, and comic book violence. It also features an extremely macho hero who spouts lame puns, improbably survives multiple dangerous situations, and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake.
We see and experience the movie through the eyes of a young boy who is an avid movie buff and uses them to escape from the mundaneness of his everyday life. There's a hilarious scene at the beginning where his junior high school English teacher screens an old black and white version of Hamlet, and he fantasizes about what Schwarzenegger would do with the role.
The Last Action Hero not only makes fun of Schwarzenegger movies, it makes fun of Schwarzenegger himself for his greed. (Schwarzenegger plays along gamely.) There's even an inspired scene where the Schwarzenegger action hero meets Schwarzenegger the actor -- and disapproves of him. (It makes sense in the context of the movie.)
I've never seen a movie which so mercilessly picks apart Hollywood cliches. I've also never seen one which so romantically evokes the magic of movie-going.
Watch it, and you'll understand.
It's available on Netflix.