Here at REWIND, the biggest problem we have writing synopses of our movies is the temptation to talk about everything. So if we’re forced to pick just one hot
Here at REWIND, the biggest problem we have writing synopses of our movies is the temptation to talk about everything. So if we’re forced to pick just one hot take about Last Action Hero, fine, here it is: this movie is, when considered from certain perspectives, the weirdest movie REWIND has yet screened. And we’ve shown The Room.
A flop on original release (somebody got the bright idea to program it against Jurassic Park), Last Action Hero was the first piece of evidence that Arnold Schwarzenegger was in on the joke of himself. It’s a parody of the big-budget action-hero blockbusters that were dominating the movie landscape at the time, using the classic trope of a film-within-a-film – a kid is drawn magically into a movie and tries to convince his biggest hero, the guns-blazing Jack Slater, of his own nature as a fictional character while he’s busy taking down a drug kingpin. At its heart it’s a loving tease about the magic of cinema. But consider: this is the Schwarzenegger movie that came out after Terminator 2, with Arnold at peak, self-serious stardom. He wouldn’t play Mr. Freeze in the execrable Batman & Robin for another four years. Is it possible that Arnold started making fun of himself too early, before most people knew he knew it was funny? There’s an element of Last Action Hero that feels like an actor breaking character, which – even when it’s hilarious – is always a little uncomfortable. The weird thing is Arnold seems way more comfortable making fun of himself than being himself. He’s at his absolute best here, and the movie is genuinely funny as a satire of action clichés, full of sharp writing and winking casting – in a lot of ways the ‘90s were rich with broad action-satire … but that’s a take for a different time. Come jump through the screen with us and Last Action Hero.
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