I watched this as part of a virtual movie night with the Alternate Ending community, and it’s tough to imagine a movie more perfect for the format — giddy, over the top, packed with references and cameos, plenty to admire and make fun of, not remotely challenging but plenty clever.
Middle school movie nerd Danny hops through the silver screen and lives out an entry of his favorite action movie franchise. Arnold is terrific as the movie-in-movie’s hero, toeing the line between self-parody and straight-faced action star. Charles Dance is possibly even better as the scheming villain with one fake eye.
I was expecting some of the “movies are so fake” jokes (a la the Disney Channel film Teen Beach Movie) and the “but what if they were real though?” jokes (a la Purple Rose of Cairo and Enchanted). What I wasn’t prepared for was a well of references and meta gags going quite as deep and clever as this — e.g. arguing about how to pronounce Schwarzenegger’s name; McTiernan recreating parts of the Die Hard climax; a Seventh Seal and Hamlet riff. It’s some fun stuff.
The action is a blast, with a few delightful set pieces and some of the wildest foley work you’ll hear.
Last Action Hero is a movie that could be your favorite in the world when you see it at age 11, only to watch it at age 33, get more of the jokes, and think “this is actually pretty solid.” I skipped the first half of that, but here I am for round 2.
If only it was a half hour shorter and the child star was less of a goober, I’d rank it as a top-tier cheesy classic.
Very Good (6/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.