Posted by: Mad Ness Monster | 06/29/2009

“The Last Action Hero” review

(3/9/06)

Note that this review is pre-TV Tropes.  I wasn’t aware that this movie had a big cult following.  It seems to have spawned a generation of Tropers (mostly male) and… I don’t think they are going to like what I have to say here…

There are some bad movies that you just have to make yourself watch in order to see if they are indeed as bad as everyone your age and gender says they are. This is the first time I ever made myself sit through this whole thing; previously I’d never made it past the half-hour mark. I’d just primed three canvases and I saw that this was on cable so I figured it would be something to do as the canvases dried. I have three canvases that have been freshly “gessoed” (gesso is a thick white paint that dries to an even, almost-flexible surface to paint on), and I have no idea what I’m going to paint on them. I know I’m not going to put brush to canvas until I have a really neat idea that’s worth the effort.
You can tell how excited I am to talk about “Last Action Hero”, can’t you?
I’ll say this. I remember reading an article when this movie first came out (the same time as “Jurassic Park” for the record). This is supposed to be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s *children’s movie*. I promise you, that’s how I remember it was marketed. Keep that in mind if you watch it because this movie obviously wants to have it’s cake and eat it too. It doesn’t want to alienate the kids, so it has an annoying kid as Arnie’s sidekick. And it doesn’t want to alienate action fans, so it has long, long stretches of (supposedly) PG-13-rated violence.  Some of the digs at action movie tropes are pretty clever, but the way these jokes are delivered just falls flat.  I couldn’t help but wonder if the movie would have been much better with a completely different cast and crew behind it.  Everyone just takes it way too seriously.
You know how some movies are all over the map? Well, thanks to these two elements pulling in opposite directions, “Last Action Hero” is all over the cool little 3-D mechanical model of the Solar System in the science room.

The Best Parts:
2 minutes in – J. Slater?!? 😀
8 minutes in – Woo! Shoutout!
9 minutes in – Hooray for Ray Harryhausen!
11 minutes in – I didn’t expect see a Chuck Jones cartoon in this context.
13 minutes in – Just a reminder: this was marketed s a children’s movie.
16 minutes in – Hooray for blatant foreshadowing (look quick at the writing above the sculpted head).
22 minutes in – Ah, so the lad is the kind of person who talks through the movie. Well, whatever happens to him, blah.
24 minutes in – Ow. My brain…  Psy-yi-yi... duck?
28 minutes in – Boring!!! Let’s have some character development and internal logic!
29 minutes in – Hooray for product placement!!! (This is just going to have to go for the whole movie.)
31 minutes in – And thus did George Michael’s reign of terror end.
40 minutes in – Actually, the Gov’s right…
42 minutes in – “Francis is taking his bath!”
49 minutes in – Today’s Secret Word is, “Skeezy”!
52 minutes in – Just reminding you again: this was marketed as a children’s movie.
57 minutes in – Kenny, don’t be a hero!!!
1 hour, 1 minute in – Yay, MPAA rating system! (Sigh…)
1 hour, 4 minutes in – Uh, he’s not my hero.
1 hour, 11 minutes in – M.C. SkatCat has gone berserk!!!
1 hour, 18 minutes in – What do you hate most about this scene? Pick one:
a. Arnie can swim in tar;
b. The “Silent But Deadly” bit;
c. The real LaBrea Tar Pits have *nothing* to do with Dinosaurs!!! (Yes, this last thing distracted me in “Sin City“ too. But since that movie is good, I let it slide.)
1 hour, 23 minutes in – “I’ll take my chances in the Mystery Wall!”
1 hour, 27 minutes in – “Clearly I / will go sailing / no more…” <:(
1 hour, 31 minutes in – Oh yeah, remember the mom subplot? (Damn, how would you like to be the mother character in this movie?)
1 hour, 32 minutes in – Nice Kids in the Hall shout-out. Very nice.
1 hour, 36 minutes in – Probably the most blatant of the many weirdly racist jokes in this movie. (Reminder: kid’s movie.)
1 hour, 40 minutes in – You should grab another drink before this scene.
1 hour, 42 minutes in – Ha ha ha – shut the hell up.
1 hour, 47 minutes in – Please hit yourself if you didn’t see this coming.
1 hour, 52 minutes in – King Kong was *nice*, dumbass!
1 hour, 55 minutes in – Say, have I mentioned how much I hate this kid?
1 hour, 57 minutes in – Oh… kay…
2 hours in – So, what is the message here?
2 hours, 3 minutes in – Hooray for sequel set-up! (Good Lord, deliver us!)

Classic Lines of Dialogue:
“When the Governor gets here, call me.” – Slater 😀

Things I Learned from this Movie/Book/Whatever:
* – Kids – Stay away from battle-axe wielding psychos.
* – Fan boys – Befriend elderly movie theater owners, even if you have to head into the sketch-tastic part of town.
* – Female characters in cheesy action movies – If you can kick ass, please do so as soon as you can.
* – Writers – Be nice to your characters. On the offhand chance that they come to life, you don’t want them to resent you deeply for putting them through such drama.
* – Sidekicks of action heroes – Be aware that, if the choice comes to saving you from falling and killing the villain, killing the villain is your boss’ priority.
* – Everybody – Do not play with dynamite.
* – Everybody – Do not remind fictional characters that they aren’t real people. They hate that.
* – Arnold sucks at self-parody.
* – Magicians have large hands.
* – Movie gangsters are painfully easy to distract.
* – A lot of cheesy action movie villainy involves being tossed through the air.
* – And, as with storybook villainy, cheesy action movie villainy largely involves waiting around for the heroes to wander into your lair.

Things That Can Save Any Movie:
Cool Creatures?
No.
Good Soundtrack? No.
Hot Guys? No.
Pretty Scenery? No.
Nifty Animation/Special Effects/Illustrations? No.

Drinking Game Potential? Drink when there is a totally pointless cameo.

Head Movie Potential? No.

Rating: Jon rating (sucks)
Jon. It is a cult hit, and it spawned a generation of TV Tropers, but you have to remember that I have ovaries, and therefore do not give a free pass to every action movie.

Credits
A Columbia Pictures Film released in 1993. Directed by John McTiernen, who put in a strange scene where the characters find videos of his other, better movies. I think, somehow, John knew
Cast
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austin O’Brien, and a *lot* of other people who probably feel very sad whenever this movie is brought up.
Related Links
IMDB page
TV Tropes page
Mutant Reviewers from Hell review

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