Monday, April 15, 2013

The Last Action Hero

From the director of Die Hard and the writer of Lethal Weapon comes Last Action Hero! Watch the early ‘90s unfold as Arnold Schwarzenegger winks and nods at the action hero typecasting that defined his career. Keep this Scorecard handy, because the goggles, they do nothing! Up and at dem!
  • Having two fantastic Alice in Chains songs made exclusively for the soundtrack. = +20pts 
  • For using a dummy for a staged fall rather than a stuntman. = -4pts 
  • Arnold asks a bad guy, “You want to be a farmer?” and then shouts, “Here’s a couple of achers!” moments before kicking the “mook” so hard in the groin that he rockets through the air. = +13pts 
  • John Malkovich has never looked better than in his role as The Ripper. = -5pts 
  • Ostentatious theater alert! = +3pts 
  • The teacher made no mention of Danny showing up late for class, revealing that she either gave up on caring or never cared to begin with. = -7pts (For the accurate representation of the public school system.) 
  • Arnold portrays Hamlet by murdering guys with a machine gun and then blowing up Elsinore. = +100pts 
  • Danny’s ghetto-ass apartment is robbed by a crackhead who laments the lack of quality loot. = -8pts 
  • Mr. Lundy was too much of a wimp to use Houdini’s magic ticket, but he’s completely okay with giving it to an adolescent boy. = -6pts (For clearly expecting something later. Perv.) 
  • Quintessential Asian Bad Guy Al Leong makes a cameo appearance as the bad guy killed by an ice cream cone from an exploding ice cream truck. = +7pts 
  • Arnold dazzles Danny by steering his car in midair and taking down a van-mounted machine gun. = +3pts 
  • Arnold further dazzles Danny by taking him into a pink alley. = -9pts (For not being a double-entendre.) 
  • That same truck exploding its way into a drag show= +4pts (We think we see a theme…) 
  • Police station inventory: a midget, female officers with metal-plated breasts, and the T-1000. = +13pts 
  • Danny figures out that F. Murray Abraham is a bad guy because he was Salieri in Amadeus. The tongue-in-cheek self-referential humor is reaching critical mass! = +3pts 
  • In the Jack Slater movie universe, Stallone stars in The Terminator. What a whimsical land of poppycock! = -8pts 
  • Danny backhandedly compliments the video store clerk by saying that she’s too pretty to be working there. = -5pts (Would be lower if there were any video store clerks left to offend.) 
  • The moment we’ve all been waiting for: Arnold over-pronounces “California.” = +2pts 
  • Arnold referring to himself as “Arnold Braunschweiger.” = +7pts 
  • Training attack dogs to form a pyramid on command. = +3pts 
  • Benedict’s henchmen: Cleveland Brown, Ditka, Glenn Danzig, and a vato with a side-ponytail. = -17pts 
  • Referencing both The Goonies and E.T. by having Danny fly through the air on a little girl’s bike. = +4pts 
  • Arnold’s closet comprises nothing but matching sets of the same clothes. = +3pts 
  • For never launching a sequel starring Danny DeVito as Whiskers the Sassy Police Cat. = -12pts 
  • Danny shows Arnold how useful he is by running onto a construction site while yelling and waving a gun in the air. = -10pts 
  • Arnold’s idea of a decoy: Pointing off-camera and shouting, “Look – an elephant!” = -7pts 
  • Everyone, including nuns and little old ladies, is packing heat at a mafia funeral. = +6pts 
  • Arnold shows off his inhuman strength by swimming the La Brea Tar Pits as if it were the YMCA lap pool. = +4pts 
  • Not only does Benedict deliver his evil monologue directly to the camera, but we can see the crew’s reflection in the background mirror. = -7pts for curb-stomping the tone of the film if it was intentional and for the generally sloppiness if not. 
  • Instilling sympathy for the villain by having him experience the existential horror of realizing his life, loves, and losses were all fabricated by a Hollywood screenwriter. = +11pts (For being exactly like the real world.)
  • Wrenching away that sympathy by showing Benedict murder a guy in cold blood. = -11pts 
  • Benedict left the showing of Night of the Living Dead with the magic ticket, but didn’t have any zombies in tow. Clearly he will be defeated. = -13pts 
  • The celebrity cameos are getting gratuitous: Little Richard, James Belushi, and MC Hammer. = -14pts 
  • For having hot Schwarzenegger-on-Schwarzenegger action that didn’t include him making out with himself. = -5pts 
  • Benedict’s evil plan is to bring every cinematic villain into the real world, but the only one we see is The Ripper. = -11pts (For ripping us off! Heh…) 
  • Guest appearance by Ian McKellan as Death from The Seventh Seal. = +20pts 
  • The film ends with Arnold willingly going back into the movie, foregoing free will and any chance at an actual life. What some people call “becoming shitty governor of California.” Thanks for nothing, Arnold!= -40pts 
  • Ending your magic ticket movie without having anyone taking the magic ticket into a porno. = +7pts 
  • Andrew Ryan was the Best Boy! Is the grip department not entitled to the sweat of its own brow? = +2pts 
Total Score =  +44pts

Available: The five-dollar DVD bin at Fred Meyer or TBS at 3 am on a Wednesday

Though turning its nose up at any real substance, Last Action Hero has enough hijinks and subtle nods to the buddy cop / action blockbuster genres to make this an entertaining film. It was shamefully received by critics and audiences, and, despite achieving cult status, is still often overlooked and essentially forgotten by pop culture.

Score Technician: T.J. Geise

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