Last Action Hero

Last Action Hero

Dramas, romances, and comedies all perform well at the box office, but no genre quite captures the fancy of the American moviegoer like action. From war films to westerns to police in hot pursuit, action transports the viewer into a world where heroes win, villains lose, and average joes prove to be anything but. And with these movies ever so popular, it was inevitable that someone would come along and poke some good-natured fun at the whole phenomenon.

Enter 1993’s Last Action Hero, a parody/homage to the entire genre. The film starred perhaps the most popular action hero at the time, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who hammed it up to the hilt. Gorged with cliches ranging from indestructible heroes to “average” beautiful women, the movie both celebrates and desecrates the stereotypical action film.

But lest you think the movie was merely a function of that which came before, know that Last Action Hero was the first film ever released in Sony Dynamic Digital Sound as well as being the first film ever advertised in space (Schwarzenegger ponied up fifty grand to have the title put on the side of an unmanned rocket). Enough about that, let’s get to the film.

Danny Madigan is a kid infatuated with movies, particularly those starring his favorite actor Arnold Schwarzenegger as Jack Slater. When theater owner Nick lets him in early one night to preview the new Jack Slater IV, he gives Danny a magic ticket which transports Danny quite literally into the film, specifically into the backseat of Slater’s car during a high-speed chase. Danny then attempts to convince Slater that the world he’s living in is fictional by calling into question everything from the weather to phone numbers.

Of course, no action film would be complete without a villain. Henchman turned head honcho Benedict (Charles Dance) discovers Danny’s secret and steals the ticket in order to transport himself and other movie villains into the world where “bad guys can win.”

Released the weekend after the seminal Jurassic Park, Last Action Hero struggled at the box office. Still, the film has garnered a cult following for its blend of satirical comedy and poignant legitimacy. Many fans of science fiction have also gravitated toward the film because of its meaningful exploration of alternate reality as a way of understanding culture, arguing that Last Action Hero is a first-rate film.

If you are a fan of this action-packed parody from the 90s, we would love to hear your thoughts and recollections in our comments section below. Meanwhile, a tip of the Retroland hat to this underrated homage that’s still worthy of a quiet night and a batch of fresh-made Jiffy Pop.

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