Monday, August 24, 2015

Movie Review: "Last Action Hero" (1993)

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Movie"Last Action Hero"
Director: John McTiernan
Year: 1990
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Danny Madigan (Austin O'Brien) is a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Jack Slater films. He often spends his afternoons in an old movie theater run by his friend Nick (Robert Porsky) watching the Jack Slater films over and over. Nick has a surprise for Danny. As it turns out, he will be screening Arnold's new movie "Jack Slater IV" at midnight before anyone else and he will allow Danny to see it. When Danny shows up to watch the movie, Nick gives him a magic golden ticket that he received from Houdini himself. As the action rages on on screen, the ticket activates and Danny is sucked into the movie, becoming part of film and becoming sidekick to Jack Slater himself. 

"Last Action Hero" has the distinction of being one of Arnold's first real box office bombs, and at the time it came out, we can probably see why. Of its $85 million dollar budget, which doesn't include the money spent to advertise this movie in space, yes you read that right, to advertise it in space, it only made $50 million back at the domestic box office. It had the unfortunate honor of opening the weekend after the box office juggernaut "Jurassic Park." This, combined with a slew of relatively bad reviews by critics and test audiences, left this film on life support. Despite all of these factors, this film isn't horrible. Honestly, in 2015, we have seen a lot more worse action comedies than this, and in fact, I'd even go as far as saying I really, really liked it!

This movie is self-aware action comedy parody where Arnold pokes fun at the genre which made him a box office king. The vast majority of the film takes place in the fantasy world of the in-movie film "Jack Slater IV." There, everything is as cliché as can be: the action is ridiculously over-the-top, and the one-liners and knee-slapping jokes are plentiful. In Jack Slater world, everything is how you'd expect it to be in an action movie: women are insanely beautiful, every phone number starts with 555, cars explode with little prompting, and the good guy always wins. There are also a host of cameos from other Arnold Schwarzenegger films and walks of life such as Robert Patrick as the T-1000 from "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," Danny DeVito as the voice of a cartoon cat named Whiskers, and MC Hammer, Maria Shriver, Damon Wayans, Chevy Chase and Jean-Claude Van Damme as, well, their real-life counterparts. They are usually there to run into Schwarzenegger or say some sort of off-the-cuff remark to him in fantasy Jack Slater movieland. Of course, some of these jokes do get quite stupid from time to time, but mostly, the stupid jokes aren't what bothered us about the film. It's really Austin O'Brien, who plays main character Danny Madigan, who bugs us for some reason. Being from the real world, Danny has a smug, know-it-all attitude, and the way Austin O'Brien portrays this attitude comes off as really annoying. Eventually, the villainous Benedict, played by the wonderfully sinister Charles Dance, gets a hold of Danny's magic ticket and winds up transporting to the real world. Of course, Jack and Danny go after him, and Jack quickly learns stuff from the movies doesn't always work the same in the real world, you know, gunshots don't explode cars, jokes aren't always well received, and he is far from invincible. It's here where the lighthearted nature of the film goes out the window a bit, which slows the movie down considerably. The movie stops being a parody of cookie-cutter action films and ventures more into a cynical satire on how terrible the real world actually is. For BigJ, this part is his least favorite and as we mentioned, it runs a little long. There could have been a good 20 minutes cut from its run time, which would have helped with the flow of the film overall since it tends to drag in some places. Overall, it's not Arnold's best film, but it's certainly not his worst, and if you like puns, well, buckle up, because there's enough of 'em to go around and it'll have you repeating them until the cows come home.

My Rating: 6.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 37%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Happy Accidents"

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