RAH Humor Review:
Last Action Hero
by Dave Bealer
This review first appeared in the September 1994 issue of Random Access
Copyright © 1994 Dave Bealer, All Rights Reserved.
Here we go again. What's this guy doing, reviewing a Schwarzenegger
film as humor? Well, I'll tell you...it's funny!
Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably the most successful action movie
star of the past decade. Body count movies make money, and Arnold's
are arguably among the best of the genre. In an ideal world Arnold
could go on making these hyper-violent flicks until he ends up old
and in a wheelchair - Ironside with a Austrian accent.
The trouble is the political correction movement. Liberals are
trying to blame all the world's crime problems on television and
movie violence. This is complete and utter bovine fecal matter, but
that is a discussion for another article. The point is that Congress
is putting a great deal of pressure on Hollywood to make less violent
films. Movie industry executives are making at least a token effort
to tone things down before laws are passed to dictate movie content.
One of the first of these tokens is Last Action Hero. The bad news
is most of the movies resulting from this trend won't be this good.
Directed by John McTiernan, whose previous hits include Die Hard,
this film takes campy movie parodies to a new height. One of the
reasons is the presence of actual action stars in the movie. Besides
Arnold himself, the film features cameos by Sly Stallone, Jean-Claude
Vann Damme, Sharon Stone, and Robert Patrick. Along the way it makes
fun of every action movie from Hamlet to E.T.
Last Action Hero subscribes to the theory of fiction having its own
internal reality. Heinlein fans will recognize this from the science
fiction master's later novels. Newcomer Austin O'Brien plays eleven-
year-old New Yorker Danny Madigan, who is magically transported to
Los Angeles. In particular, a Los Angeles that exists only inside
the latest Schwarzenegger film, Jack Slater IV. Given the fact
that their world is real enough to them, Jack and the other on-screen
cops display superhuman patience with this obviously insane child who
thinks they're in a movie...and knows a shocking amount about their
People who are allergic to puns will want to avoid this movie like
the plague. One of the climaxes is triggered by the most horrendous
situational pun ever committed to celluloid. Most of the other puns
in the movie are on a par with typical Schwarzenegger fare.
What really makes this film enjoyable is the way it pokes fun at
movie conventions and unrealities. Jack's LAPD headquarters features
valet parking and police women in skin-tight latex suits (which are
excellent for sneaking up on bad guys). This mythical police force
includes Whiskers, an animated cat (with the voice of Danny DeVito),
and "the black and white digitalization of Humphrey Bogart."
A 1993 movie that bombed at the box office (due to the experimental
low body count for an "Ahnold" film), Last Action Hero has a witty
screenplay written by Shane Black and David Arnott. The cast, which
includes F. Murray Abraham (the man who killed "Moe Zart"), Robert
Prosky, Charles Dance, Frank McRae, Mercedes Ruehl, Anthony Quinn,
Art Carney, Professor Toru Tanaka, and Sir Ian McKellen, does an
excellent job. Anyone who missed this movie because of the bad
reviews made a "big mistake."
Dave Bealer is a fifty-something mainframe systems programmer who
works with CICS, z/OS and all manner of nasty acronyms at one of the
largest heavy metal shops on the East Coast. He shares a waterfront
townhome in Pasadena, MD. with a cat who annoys him endlessly as he
assiduously avoids writing for and publishing Random Access Humor.
Dave can be reached via e-mail at:
The best way to win an argument is to be right.