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Last Action Hero

tn_lastactionheroex3-arnoldDo you guys remember how LAST ACTION HERO was the big ticket for ’93?

Okay, probly not. That was the tagline on some of the posters though. See, they knew this was destined to be a huge event movie, the movie of the summer. Fuck JURASSIC PARK. But also the plot involved a magical ticket that transports people between the worlds of reality and fiction. It’s a double meaning. They put alot of thought into this thing, just not the right kind maybe.

This is at least the third time I’ve watched and attempted to truly like this movie. That’s a strike out, so it’s time to sit on the bench and accept it as a kinda interesting, kinda terrible movie. Not as good as HUDSON HAWK but a bit of that same clever/awkward cocktail. Unique enough to keep coming back to, not good enough to be 100% sure it was worth it.

There’s plenty to like. It’s directed by John McTiernan, shot by Dean Semler (ROAD WARRIOR, APOCALYPTO) so it looks and feels big and cinematic. It’s doing meta before SCREAM, a character who gets magically transported into an Arnold Schwarzenegger action sequel and has to use his knowledge of movie tropes (and omniscient viewing of the opening scenes) to survive. But mostly they just make jokes about movie cheats like he gets covered in tar but then it easily cleans off him. It’s a kind of cool if silly premise that leads to some funny ideas and outrageous action that I’d be happy to see in a non-comedy.

JACK SLATER IV is “a Franco Columbu Film” (that’s one of Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding friends and frequent co-stars) but it could almost be Craig R. Baxley. Schwarzenegger as Slater drives his convertible recklessly across medians and lawns, into the L.A. River, firing bullets in every direction. Dynamite and axes fly at the camera like it’s supposed to be in 3D, cars flip and explode, he hangs from the sides of buildings, he has a slo-mo Hans Grueber fall but grabs onto a wrecking ball that swings him around before dumping him in the La Brea Tar Pits, there’s a pre-THE MATRIX helicopter vs. office building shootout, explosives are hidden in a glass eye and in a corpse, the second his car is smashed by a helicopter crash his daughter (Bridget “Sonya Blade” Wilson) shows up out of the blue in his weekend ride, a monster truck with flames painted on the side.

mp_lastactionheroUnfortunately  there are two major problems I have with this one. #1 has to do with the world of the movie and the execution of this premise. The idea is that a regular kid from the real world (Austin O’Brien) goes into a movie, so reality is different, people can get shot without getting very hurt, they don’t always have to relaod, cars instantly explode if one bullet hits them, all women look like models (they have Angie Everhart working at a Blockbuster Video), etc.

The trouble with this is that the “real world” part of the movie is such a load of movie horse shit. Come on, a kid who thinks about nothing but “Jack Slater” movies, who spends his nights in a huge, virtually empty, run down historic Times Square movie palace and is best friends with its sole employee, Robert Proskey, a wistful old man who adores old movies and tells stories about meeting Buffalo Bill and has a magic movie ticket that he knows is real but has never used that was given to him by Harry Houdini? In what way is this supposed to resemble the real world? We only know this type of warmed over nostalgia leftovers from watching bad movies.

A lesser sub-problem of #1, #1b, is that the movie world, while obviously meant to be exaggerated, doesn’t really seem much like actual movies that exist. Do we really believe in JACK SLATER, a franchise where Schwarzenegger just plays a cop, no high concept premise, no partner character, few series regulars? And it’s still popular in its fourth chapter, and at some point in the series they introduced an animated cat named Detective Whiskers (voice of Danny Devito) who appears in brief cameos?

What’s up with that? I mean it’s kinda funny because it’s so ridiculous, but it’s so out of place in a popular cop series that every time I watch it I start questioning how this premise is supposed to work. Everything about the narrative tells us that they are specifically inside the movie JACK SLATER IV. For example, later in the movie they’re worried that a bad guy has the ticket and can now go into other movies. He brags that he could go inside DRACULA or KING KONG. He gets a newspaper where his markings indicate that he has chosen JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (apparently in a wide re-release) over SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, SLEEPWALKERS, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA and JAGGED EDGE. Weirdly they never get to that part in the movie, but they do have Death (Ian McKellan) step out of Ingmar Bergman’s THE SEVENTH SEAL into New York City.

So yes, it is clear, the ticket transports you into the world of a specific movie. Except then he walks past Robert Patrick as the T-1000, which I believe is a character from the movie TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY and not from JACK SLATER IV. Correct me if I’m wrong. And there is this cartoon cat, who either has also wandered from another movie or is a character in this series. How does this work again?

I don’t know, maybe the various people working on the movie never came to an agreement about the rules of the world here. It seems inconsistent. And just the little details of how things work don’t always seem to make sense. For example, why would a magic ticket that has been torn in half and placed into the ticket box be able to be taken out and used for other movies? That’s not how a ticket has ever worked. At the very least if you’re able to re-use it it should only be the stub, the part you retain. It shouldn’t be both halves. What kind of fuckin amateur hour magical ticket creator is this Houdini chump anyway.

Main Problem #2, I’m sorry to say, is the kid. Normally I would not accept a kid who is not wearing a Public Enemy t-shirt and is not destined to lead the humans in an uprising against the machines tell Arnold what to do. But I understand that this is not meant as a real action movie, and it’s got that gimmick, it would be weirder if it was an adult magically going into the movie and joining up with Arnold. So it makes sense that it stars a kid.  But this is not one of the better kid heroes, even though the script by Zak Penn (X2-3) & Adam Leff (PCU, BIO-DOME) was heavily rewritten by Shane Black (& David Arnott [THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE]), who wrote good kids for MONSTER SQUAD and I arguably IRON MAN THREE.

As usual I feel bad criticizing a child actor, I gotta hold McT and the script responsible for not getting a natural performance but instead one of these kids who talks and thinks like a fake movie adult, saying little wise ass quips, using phrases like “follow my lead” and making generalizations about movie conventions the way only fake people in movies do and not real people who like movies, especially when they’re kids. (I’m glad he likes DIE HARD though.)

Actually this brings up a strange aspect. By making this movie about a kid who loves Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies, they were acknowledging that in that era violent R-rated movies like T2, PREDATOR and DIE HARD were seen and loved by kids, not just people over 17. Either parents brought them there or they were able to sneak in or they had an abandoned magical place with a whimsical old projectionist guy who let them in.

But then after showing that in the movie itself they still felt because it was for kids they had to make their Arnold Schwarzenegger movie PG-13. I’m not saying it holds the movie back, I don’t believe that, but I just think it’s funny that the kid specifically points out that they’re inside a PG-13 movie, as if admitting that this is actually one of his comedies like TWINS and KINDERGARTEN COP.

If I may I would like to take a moment to apply particular disdain to the reaction shots of the kid watching the movies. He always has a big smile on his face and reacts to each thing that happens. Almost as if he knows he’s being watched and is not actually watching something. He makes you embarrassed to be a movie fan. Jesus, I hope I don’t make that big a show of enjoying an Arnold movie.

Somebody should’ve told this kid if you’re gonna play “enjoying a violent movie” way too broad then there’s only one correct way to do it:

But I guess the reason I keep coming back is because I remember the funny parts. Arnold gets to say a parody one-liner that in my opinion would be an absolute classic real one-liner (“Hey, you wanna be a farmer? Here’s a couple of achers.” [kicks in balls]). The sort of hacky joke trailer for an action HAMLET starring Schwarzenegger is worth it to hear him quip “To be, or not to be? Not to be.” And there are funny concepts like Slater always has his life scored with rockin guitars, so when he’s in the real world and hears Mozart for the first time it blows his mind. Also I laughed when Professor Toru Tanaka, in his capacity as a henchman, asks the boss if he wants him to vacuum. I’m sure as a henchman there’s alot of down time where you gotta find something to do, you know?

But then I start wondering why a fake henchman in the fake world has a real world human moment like that, and why did I miss when a henchman (Charles Dance) became the boss and has this henchman, and wouldn’t it work without these extra cartoony jokes like the mobster named “The Fart” and at his funeral every single person, especially old ladies, pulls out a gun and points it at Slater? Ha ha get it old ladies with guns.

But you know what, don’t let me end this on a negative note. This movie is a mess, but I’m glad it exists. There are so many other forgettable movies that maybe are technically better or not as bad but that contribute less to the world. I was gonna give a specific example of another movie that came out around the same time that is totally forgettable, but at least in the action genre there were some pretty good ones that came out that summer: CLIFFHANGER, IN THE LINE OF FIRE, THE FUGITIVE, HARD TARGET, ONLY THE STRONG. I don’t know, ANOTHER STAKEOUT? Is that less worthy of existing than LAST ACTION HERO? I can’t claim to really remember if that’s good or not.

Anyway I’m sure some of you are gonna tell me it’s a misunderstood classic, and I can’t say I will ever agree with you, but I’m glad you get more out of it than I do. Here are some pictures of the LAST ACTION HERO crap they made when they thought it was gonna be a movie that people would see and enjoy. Also there is a pinball machine.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 at 1:38 pm and is filed under Action, Comedy/Laffs, Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

136 Responses to “Last Action Hero”

  1. http://www.empireonline.com/features/last-action-hero/p1

    Great article outlining the history of the project, how it started (oddly enough inspired by THE SIMPSONS’ McBain character and films) and what effect it would have on Hollywood. Saw this with my brother many times on HBO as a kid and we both liked it (he still quotes it). That works against me having the same reaction you would Vern, but it’s understandable.

    I know I harp on this more than most, but I really liked the soundtrack and score too. Queensrÿche’s “Real World” is a rather bombastic mix of song and score, so at least with my tastes it worked. And Michael Kamen’s mix of rock and conventional action scoring was interesting enough, but not on the level that he had achieved with the LETHAL WEAPON or DIE HARD films (though you hear very little rock in the latter).

  2. From the Empire story:

    “We rented every action movie we could think of and made a checklist. Does the second-most evil bad guy die before or after the most evil bad guy? Does the hero have a Vietnam buddy? It was fun, although watching Steven Seagal movies one after another can be soul-crushing.”

    That was problem number one. If you don’t have a pure love of the genre then you can’t be expected to do any justice to it when you parody it. That’s why a film like Cabin in the Woods works. You know Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon had a strong love of horror flicks, so they understood what would and wouldn’t work when they mock the genre.

  3. I liked The Last Action Hero the first time I saw it. But to be fair, I was the movie theater’s projectionist, so I was watching the (supposedly) next big blockbuster all alone in an empty theater the night before it opened. So the early scenes of the movie really resonated with me.

  4. I feel like I accepted the nonsense logic of this better than you did and just embraced that it’s an action movie version of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It never totally works on any level, but it’s fun. If they actually made the movie within a movie it would be one of my favorites, so when I watched it I kinda rewrote the movie in my head to take the kid and the meta stuff out and enjoyed the most insane Arnold movie ever. The making of article is super interesting and even though nobody seemed to know what they were doing, McTiernan directed the hell out of it. Love the camerawork in this.

  5. flyingguillotine

    August 27th, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Henchmen doing normal things must be a minor Shane Black trope, as if you’ll recall in IM3 we get a scene in which minor baddies are hanging around and talking about their job benefits.

  6. The thing that always threw me was the climax of JACK SLATER III. There is no way in pluperfect hell that an 80s-style action sequel would end that way. Think about it. The villain MURDERS THE HERO’S SMALL CHILD RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM and then less than 30 seconds later, we cut to the credits, complete with a triumphant rockin’ AC/DC tune. Not a chance. Not in a million year. They did not study those action movies they rented closely enough. That shit happens at the beginning of an action movie, not the end.t

    A couple months ago I read the movie novelization. It shed no light on the inner workings of these characters or this world, and it did not attempt to replicate the meta aspects of the film through prose. A missed opportunity all around.

  7. flyingguillotine

    August 27th, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I recall the action HAMLET fake trailer was the one thing in this movie that really made me laugh. Just to throw it out there… Could we say that LAST ACTION HERO popularized the art form of the fake trailer, later seen in such classics as GRINDHOUSE and TROPIC THUNDER?

    The general bullshittery of the “normal world” is also my main quibble with this film. The main example is the bum who hassles the kid. The movie seems to indict the kid for not standing up to a “bully,” but this isn’t just some fat kid who has a few inches on him… It’s a crazy, full grown adult male who threatens him with a knife! It would make sense for ANYBODY who isn’t an action hero to back away from someone like that “in real life.”

    When they come to the real world and we get all of these dumb cameos on the Oscar red carpet, it just gets painful and dire.

  8. I think this was done better with the Chan-Li joint Forbidden Kingdom. I Think it is a good homage to kung fu films but also makes for a fun and funny fantasy in its own right. I think it was made by people who love old school kung fu stuff but accessible to those who aren’t in on it. That said, this was first movie I noticed Charles Dance and he kind of rocks in the movie. Cool eyeball and shit.

  9. I’m fond of this one, despite its sillier elements and that annoying fecking kid. The Hamlet trailer is an all time classic.

    I remember years ago in an interview Charles Dance was asked about this. He talked about reading the script for the first time, and how he knew he wasn’t the first choice. In his character’s introduction scene it described the camera zooming in on him, “…and he lowers the newspaper to reveal…Alan Rickman!”

  10. You can’t call someone less of an action fan for not liking Steven Seagal movies.

  11. Majestyk – They tend to do that a lot with the fake movie inside the real one, end right after the climax with zero resolution. The only time I’ve ever seen that in real movies is with really low budget grindhouse stuff from the ’70’s, usually indicating when they ran out of money, or when they hit the 90 minute mark and went “Fuck it, that’s good enough.” It would never fly in a studio movie. What I don’t get is that the director knows enough not to end the real movie that way, so why pull something that so obviously screams “Fake Movie” if it’s supposed to be legitimate? It’s so off putting.

  12. Glancing the article again, it’s impossible to say one thing or another is what killed it. It was a snowball effect of poor decisions once a major studio got it’s hands on what otherwise could have been a pretty clever story. It would have been interesting if it wound up at a smaller studio with a smaller budget, and workman actors as opposed to A-list talent.

  13. 1. It was Leo DeFart. Not “The Fart.”

    2. Last Action Hero has one of my all-time favorite Arnold one-liners, and that is “I’ve got to catch de red eye” and then he leaps after Charles Dance. The red eye. Perfect. A very underrated Arnold one-liner.

    3. Tom Noonan is fucking awesome in it.

    4. The scene where Arnold is in the video store talking to the blonde, his arm is around Die Hard, Hunt For Red October, and Medicine Man. ALL MCTIERNANS.

    5. The scene where Jack Slater meets Arnold and he says “You’ve brought me nothing but PAIN”….it’s a very powerful moment.

    6. Last Action Hero is a good movie, fuck the bullshit. Shane Black’s influence is felt sharply.

  14. it’s certainly a very flawed movie, but an oddly enduring and entertaining one nevertheless, I’ll take it over any Michael Bay movie any day

  15. Funny, when I was a kid I loved the movie part but thought it fell apart when they came into the real world. Now I think the movie stuff’s cute but I really like the existential stuff in the real world.

    I think I have an answer to that movie logic of Robert Patrick being t-1000 and Stallone starring in T2. The kid goes into the movie but then lives there for all the parts that aren’t included in the actual movie. Plus he’s messing with the scripted story, so jack slater wasn’t supposed to take a kid back to his precinct and certainly wasn’t supposed to take a detour to the video store. That’s just exploring e movie world we never see.

    But yeah, Jack Slater does not seem like a franchise that would ever exist. And they killed his son at the END of part three? What, to end on a downer? Maybe at the beginning of a sequel for shock value, but never at the end.

  16. Oh, and I have a picture of me playing the pinball machine. I actually made it my business card. Is there any way to upload it to this site?

  17. Oh yeah, the mugger who leaves the handcuff key. I know that’s to give the kid a key for later in the movie, but I expected jack slater to find that mugger when he came to the real world and avenge the kid. I bet in all that development mess, no one ever thought of resolving that. Like the kickboxer in SNAKES ON A PLANE who never kicks a snake.

  18. Didn’t William PRINCESS BRIDE/BUTCH & SUNDANCE/ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN Goldman also get sucked into the orbit of this particular script?

  19. The soundtrack to this album is so good I’ve tried to like the movie 2-3 times, too. I don’t dislike it much but it isn’t good. It’s the Alice In Chains diptych of “What The Hell Have I” and “A Little Bitter” that seared the film (and that summer) into my brain. Those are two of the band’s best song. And then there’s:


    When that came out it sounded like classic AC/DC and nowadays, it is classic AC/DC. By being the same ‘ol stuff, it was way ahead of its time.

  20. I meant to add that ironically, the Alice In Chains songs are barely featured in the film. It was the beginning of that era when some blockbusters had soundtracks that were better than the movie.

  21. The downer ending of JACK SLATER 3 is weird. But maybe part 3 was supposed to be the first of a two parter in which part 4 was part 2 of part 3?

  22. maybe the JACK SLATER flicks were so popular that they knew there was going to be a fourth one inevitably, so why not end the third on a cliff hanger?

  23. Who says that King Kong and Hannibal Lecter DON’T live in Jack Slater’s world? Maybe they just live on the west coast of it and the magic ticket will teleport you to it. And maybe Jack Slater even encountered one of them between two of his movies? True, they never lay down the rules of the magic movie world, except for the part that they all seem to live together in one place. Who says that just because Sly starred in Jack Slater’s version of T2, there isn’t a Terminator running around somewhere, who happens to look like Slater?

    So basically I both agree with you and don’t. Maybe they will further elaborate on it in the sequel.

    Oh, wait…

    (Too bad it isn’t a Disney movie. Otherwise we might get in within the next 10 years, since it transformed from a notoriius flop into a beloved cult classic.)

  24. Fred, I think if Jack Slater would have tracked down and beat the shit out of the guy who mugged the kid, this would have been against the “In reality, there isn’t always a happy ending”-premise.

  25. Can you imagine a LAST ACTION HERO sequel, that tries to satirize reboots with younger casts? What if Slater (now fully aware of his existence as fictional character in a movie) would team up with some younger guy, only to find out that that guy is supposed to be his younger self from the prequel reboot? (He didn’t recognize himself, because obviously the actor doesn’t look like Schwarzenegger looked at the same age, just like Chris Pine doesn’t look like a young Shatner or James McAvoy bears zero resemblance to PAtrick Stewart.)

  26. One Guy from Andromeda

    August 28th, 2014 at 1:28 am

    I can’t remember much about Last Action Hero, but i do remember liking Another Stakeout better. : )

  27. Yeah I loved this as a twelve year old – I even had the novelization. Haven’t seen it in quite a while so maybe I need to give it another watch.

    Quick correction, Vern – Art Carney plays Jack’s cousin in the beginning of “Jack Slater IV”; late great character actor Robert Prosky plays the theater employee Danny befriends.

  28. KaeptnKrautsalat

    August 28th, 2014 at 2:05 am

    Zak Penn seems like a smug hipster in that empire article from the first comment, like someone who neither genuinely appreciates nor understands action films. He also acts like he had some great script that was destroyed by rewrites, but his original script was never very good in the first place.

  29. I wrote a script that is fairly similar to this concept, but not as a comedy. Turned out pretty well. Got kinda close to getting it made, once or twice. Fingers crossed.

  30. You know, if that genre of action wasn’t basically dead at this point, I’d say this movie was an ideal candidate for a remake. If they grounded the real-life elements, and actually committed to the idea of the movie-within-a-movie being a totally plausible action movie, it would be great. As it is, it’s fun, but I’m always thinking how much more I’d enjoy it if the kid got sucked into “Commando” instead of Jack Slater IV

  31. “but his original script was never very good in the first place.”

    I actually read the original script once a while back and I agree, it was nothing special

    as a matter of fact several years back I actually went on an “original script” reading kick when I discovered a website that has a bunch of movies scripts, I read the original BACK TO THE FUTURE script (fascinatingly very different from the final movie save for the middle, which is mostly the same), as well as the original scripts for AMERICAN HISTORY X (basically the same), Frank Darabont’s draft of INDY 4 (not perfect but better than the final film, chiefly because there’s no Mutt) and Romero’s original DAY OF THE DEAD script (fucking AWESOME, everyone should read that), I’ve been meaning to read more, like some of the original JURASSIC PARK scripts, but reading a movie script is basically an all day affair

    a few notes about Darabont’s INDY 4 by the way, the internet probably would have still been mad since it’s still got aliens and even the infamous nuking the fridge in it, but it’s still an overall better script that handles the alien thing in a more interesting way, it’s a shame it couldn’t have happened in 2004 when Ford would have been a bit younger and there would have been no LaBeef in sight

  32. I actually could see this getting some sort of a remake. But the main character would have to be obsessed with a different era of cinema: the eighties and early nineties. It would be similar to how characters love classic cinema as a way to showcase their inner romanticism. Although I’m not sure what loving hard R action films would say about the kid in my theoretical reboot. Maybe the film could double as a satire of our overly cautious society? I’m still working out the details.

  33. “But the main character would have to be obsessed with a different era of cinema: the eighties and early nineties.” Isn’t that what the kid is obsessed with in the first film?

    BTW Vern, I humbly suggest for your Harrison Ford review (that is, if he has one of those posters to himself to keep in with the theme) to look at his two Jack Ryan movies.

  34. I wish I could visit the alternate dimension where The Last Action Hero really worked, where the combination of early-90s Hollywood action combo of Schwarzenegger, McTiernan, and Shane Black made this thing sing.

  35. OntheWall: What I’m trying to say is, if this movie were rebooted in 2014, it would seem strange for a young teenager to be really obsessed with action movies from that era. So they would have play up the fact that he’s nostalgic for this time period and for these movies that are now out of fashion.

  36. The whole life cycle of this movie was insane. I worked at the Elmwood Cinema New Orleans as a college student in 1993 and LAH was the first movie I can remember that bombed HARD. The marketing and buzz on it was huge for that time. Arnold had been riding a wave of smash hits and Columbia Pictures had actually talked to NASA about putting an advertisement for the film on the fuel tank of the fucking space shuttle. See: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising/sky-filling-proposal-place-advertising-heavens-considered-blasphemy-many-there-are-. As with many films, we had an “employee sneak preview” the night before the movie opened and we all hated it – then we opened the next day to gigantic ticket lines and concession sales because of this and Jurassic Park (which unbelievably had opened early to avoid LAH.) After each showing people would just file out of the theater like, “what the hell did I just watch?”

  37. So I finally read the original script after hearing how great it was. It really wasn’t. The villain made no sense whatsoever and the setup and foreshadowing for the villain was also suspect. As a kid from NYC around that same time frame I found it pretty unauthentic how the kid just let the projectionist treat him like crap by verbally abusing him and stuff. No NYC late 80’s and early 90’s kid growing up on action movies would be able to put up with that kinda lip.

    Only thing I do feel it has over the actual movie is more inventive setpieces and I really love that the Arno Slater character is a lot more in line with the John Matrix/Harry Tasker one man quipping superman archetype that we associate Arnold with than Jack Slater was. I’ve read that the agent who originally shopped it around is still dying to put it on the screen one day. Maybe with Dwayne Johnson in the title role and some post-action adjustments it could probably be a contender. I just wish I could find Shane Black’s original rewrite for comparison but I only find the revised draft that was shot whenever I look for that one.

    I’ve learned to love LAH for what it is though. Every time I see it I take something new from it and I do admire McTiernan’s persisitence in containing so many personal touches despite the nightmare that it was for him to get this movie done. I mean including not just a reference to THE SEVENTH SEAL but an actual character from that movie to tie in your meta action with classic cinema took balls. I think the only time I heard of such difficulties for a director on a set where the Gilliam Don Quixote movie, Burton Vs. Jon Peters on the original BATMAN and Joe Dante Vs. WB on LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION.

  38. onthewall2983 – “BTW Vern, I humbly suggest for your Harrison Ford review (that is, if he has one of those posters to himself to keep in with the theme) to look at his two Jack Ryan movies.”

    Preferably CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER which is one of the most underrated action thrillers of the 90’s. So much awesome shit all over that movie. PATRIOT GAMES is cool too as a revenge flick. It’s not Ford’s DEATH WISH or anything (FRANTIC comes closer to that) but it definitely is better than it’s reputation suggests. However CaPD was like the true sequel to RED OCTOBER. I could definitely see the Jack Ryan from McTiernan’s movie evolve into what he became in Ford’s second. Those 2 are still the series’ best anyway. The Affleck and Chris Pine ones don’t even register with me.

  39. Joe Dante could have made LAH work. I am still impressed that Gremlins 2 exists. Making fun of your own movie and unnecessary sequels is unbelievable that Warner Bros was that desperate for a film followup. Still waiting to read the Terry Jones script that Dante said was great, but too expensive to make.

  40. The Original Paul

    August 28th, 2014 at 10:36 am

    I’m kinda with Sam on this one. I always enjoy this movie, despite – or maybe because of – its faults. And I will be the first to admit it has a lot of faults. It always kinda bugged me that the kid knew that F. Murray Abraham was Salieri. It just seems like such an unlikely thing for this particular kid to know. At that age I could cheerfully accept any number of cliches and tropes because I hadn’t got the familiarity with them that comes with experience.This kid looks like a child but talks like a movie producer.

    But despite that, and despite the one thing that everybody and their dog brings up (if you have the entire history of cinema to choose from, why bring back the one guy you’ve already seen your enemy defeat?) I’ve always kinda liked this one. I don’t think it’s a classic but for me it’s fairly consistently entertaining. I’d like it to be better but I’m happy with what we got nonetheless.

  41. The Original Paul

    August 28th, 2014 at 10:37 am

    And by the way, what’s up with the forums? I had a great idea. I’d post it in the forums, except… no forums. D’oh!

  42. Crushinator Jones

    August 28th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Yeah there’s a couple of nice shots in this film and great one liners but it just doesn’t work. Oh well.

    Also this is commenter H@rdly + that lead actor from Dead Zone, unfortunately I’ve picked up an internet stalker and have to change my name. Sorry all.

  43. Paul — I’m still on team Forum. It was a much better format for getting off topic. But I guess no one else shared that dream but you and me and occasionally RBatty.

  44. The forum should be back, sorry about that. Sometimes the plugin requires it’s own upgrade after WordPress is updated and I forgot to check it. Let me know if things aren’t back to normal.

    As for Last Action Hero, it has it’s moments but it takes a certain mindset to get past the awful kid and how it drags about 2/3 of the way through. It was a big letdown in the theaters that summer. Go watch HUDSON HAWK again.

  45. “I worked at the Elmwood Cinema New Orleans as a college student in 1993”

    I bet you had a mullet

  46. idiot boy, yes, I can say that with no hesitation. Remember, they wrote the script in 91. That means they had at their disposal Above the Law, Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, and Out for Justice. I’m willing to go to the mat and argue that if you didn’t enjoy that run of flicks then you are not a real action fan. I’m sorry, but it’s not like I’m asking you to like The Glimmer Man or something.

  47. It’s been years since I watched this but the tar pit/wrecking ball scene always stood out as being one of the better action set pieces I’ve seen.

  48. “It always kinda bugged me that the kid knew that F. Murray Abraham was Salieri. It just seems like such an unlikely thing for this particular kid to know. At that age I could cheerfully accept any number of cliches and tropes because I hadn’t got the familiarity with them that comes with experience.This kid looks like a child but talks like a movie producer.”

    Counterpoint: His mother is a classical music fan, so there’s a chance she and the kid have seen AMADEUS a few times?

  49. The Original Paul

    August 28th, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    Thanks Clubside – all working for me now.

    Onthewall – good point. That one never occurred to me.

  50. Henry Swanson's my name

    August 28th, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I just find it bizarre that a guy who made two of the best 80s action movies OF ALL TIME could make a “parody” film that has such a terrible grasp of the genre. I get the feeling that McTiernan maybe isn’t the funniest guy around either.

  51. Paul, they could have gone with “That guy fucked Tony Monatana over” or “That guy’s from the spanish inquisition” or “That guy did a fairly amusing parody of Hannibal Lecter back when Sam Jackson did movies without a hairpiece”. But I guess it doesn’t have the same effect.

  52. I always hated this movie. I felt as though Arnold Schwarzenegger was laughing at his audience, send ups work when poking fun at movies and genres, but this one seemed to have a disdain for it’s audience, liking all action fans to immature twelve year old boys. It also suffers from major tonal issues, it’s never funny enough to be a comedy, but to silly to be an action movie. It was just one awful and sad mess, in many ways I don’t believe that Arnie ever fully recovered from it.

  53. This is one of those movies that I always thought was criminally underrated until a later re-watch showed that it wasn’t particularly good. There’s a ton of good jokes (the assassin hiding in the closet gag is awesome) and I actually like Arnold’s performance alot, but there strangely isn’t much ACTION, and the climax is kind of lame – Dance not only chooses to bring out an uninteresting character that Slater ALREADY DEFEATED earlier in the same movie, but he then further rubs it in by listing all the awesome characters he COULD have pulled out. Not saying he really should have pulled out King Kong and we’d have some Ghostbusters-esque climax, but one dude with an axe? C’mon. Also, the stuff they say about the kid being annoying is unfortunately true – on first watch his deconstruction/poking holes inside the movie world was funny because it hadn’t been done much at the time. On second watch, he just comes across as a killjoy and it’s like trying to watch an action movie with a chatty know-it-all in the room babbling out IMDB trivia and pointing out technical goofs while you’re just trying to watch the damn movie. Also, what’s up with the ending? There’s something really weird and off-putting about Jack now going through life knowing he’s in a movie and not giving a shit and telling his boss and everyone else they should do the same because they’re all in a movie too. I bet that’s going to make Jack Slater V alot of fun to watch – a dude constantly yelling at everyone telling them nothing matters. Great.

    On the other hand, I appreciate the balls of this movie not giving a damn about the four-quadrant model. I honestly can’t think of a single big, tentpole PG-13 summer movie that would appeal less to the female population. Oh, and not only was AC/DC’s “Big Gun” awesome, but the Def Leppard power ballad “Two Steps Behind” was surprisingly good too. The whole movie’s an interesting failure, which is too bad because the central premise is so strong I actually do think a reboot done properly would be awesome.

  54. Drunk warning.
    Fuck you Vern. I gotta be honest, this review really bummed me out. I’ve watched this mebbe 10-15 times. Ya, it’s not internally consistent but I like to think of it as parallel worlds set up more like a Venn diagram so some of it is this movie and some of it is other movies, but not all. I think it’s really set up to support that.

    Anyways, so many awesome things in one movie can’t = terrible movie. Lemme list my top… er 20 favourites or so of why this is awesome.
    1) It’s a cool idea, going in to a movie. An imagination thing I got into as a kid. I watched this with 2 of my boys (youngsters, one with autism, one with aspergers) and both of em loved the shit out of it.
    2) Charles Dance, I mean fuck me is he good in this. Remember:
    3) “It’s great isn’t it!” when he flicks out the knife with enthusiastic glee. You just don’t get magic like that from many actors.
    4) “The exchange with Arnie where he’s like “Sir, are you a henchman” and the quick retort, “No, I only go as far as lackey”. That cool delivery aint common.
    5) Seriously – the whole bit with “I just killed somebody, I did it on purpose”. Gut busting stuff
    6) This is more Arnie, but Arnie’s awesomeness with, how will you snap your fingers after I break off both of your thumbs!. I mean that’s a real line delivered in this same movie.
    7) Charles Dance brilliance with his frustrations. Not just the one-liners with his boss, but the little touches, like the sigh when one of the henchies drops the thrown money in the house, and the sarcastic frustration when driving away saying next time we’ll come in something more sturdy… like a tank.
    8) The music is fucking awesome, but Arnie’s love of classic instead as you note, brilliant.
    9) Arnie’s stupid surprise in the ‘real’ world with the “I think the taxi’s are bullet proof” cracked me up.
    10) The closet shooting is fucking hilarious.
    11) Arnie as Hamlet was worth watching the whole movie for alone.
    12) I even kinda liked the “you know tar actually sticks to some people”
    13) The concept of bringing in Rosemary’s baby, King Kong, Freddy Krueger etc. is just fucking plain awesome and almost worth it alone again.
    14) The I left one chamber empty was great scene, nice surprise – again Charles Dance delivery.
    15) Death was a seriously cool cameo with Ian doing it. Kids freaked out at the Patrick cameo. I kinda liked the Sharon Stone one too. Of course, the Mozart stuff you can’t go past.
    16) Arnie being a dick as himself and boring his wife was a nice touch. Gotta appreciate genuine self deprecation
    17) Here’s a couple of acher’s start as you say, to Alice in Chains opening
    18) Actually that soundtrack right through fuck me, Megadeth, Anthrax, Def Leppard, ACDC, Queensryche just fucking brilliant
    19) I even liked the premature ejaculation line despite having to try explain around it for the kids in a supposed pg movie
    20) I gotta go back to requote the delivery of “I just shot somebody, I did it on purpose”, how can a movie with this scene not get a 10, how!?!

    THat’s enough. Fuck all’yall.

  55. Reading that article, for all its flaws it seems a miracle it’s as interesting and thematically cohesive as it is

  56. AU Armageddon brings up another point I forgot about – I actually think the portrayal of “real” Arnold was kind of a missed opportunity – it sort of seemed like a proto-version of the “celebrity plays himself as an asshole/schmuck” later popularized by Neil Patrick Harris in Harold & Kumar, or multiple people on Curb Your Enthusiasm. But they didn’t go all the way with it, having him get his own heroic moment which might have been good-intentioned but just reeked of ego.

    And I know we’ve discussed it before, but I can’t remember who was the first celebrity to play an asshole version of themselves. I THINK it was C. Thomas Howell in Far Out Man but I feel like it was someone else in the 80s.

  57. Neal, I think to find out who was the first celebrity who did it, we probably have to watch every 80s sitcom ever made. Which might be too much for many. Also something tells me it was Adam West anyway.

  58. Clint Eastwood played himself on MISTER ED.

  59. I thought the precinct was supposed to be where the cop characters from all the different action movies hang out, not just the Jack Slater movies. So that’s why you had Robert Patrick and the cartoon cat etc. That’s also why it was fucking enormous, like a hanger for off duty cop characters when they’re not in movies, because they don’t cease to exist when they’re not on-screen. So the movie world we are introduced to is not the world of Jack Slater, but the world of all movies.

    Anyway, on a recent watch I liked this one better than Hudson Hawk I have to say. They’re both kind of a shambles in their own way, but maybe I dig the humour of LAH more.

  60. Blapps, I think you’ve cracked it. That is the only thing that makes sense.

  61. Thanks Vern. After only no reading how it was meant to be spelled do I get the “here’s a couple of achers” joke.

    I’ve always liked this, though I do admit the inconsistencies have always bugged a bit(especially the aforementioned child murder a the end of JACK SLATER III contradicting the “good always wins in movies” idea), but I do love the ridiculousness and Charles Dance is amazing in it.

  62. My biggest problem with the flick was also the kid. Not because he gave a poor performance, but mostly because here was a kid who worshiped this character and his movies, and he’s given an opportunity to ACTUALLY FUCKING LIVE IN IT, and all he does is spend his time trying to convince everyone that it isn’t real.

    JUST ENJOY IT, DICKHOLE!! Go along with the ride, and keep your mouth shut about it! Stop being a killjoy and live it up! I was 15 when this came out and that was all I could think about was how come this kid isn’t just digging it? If I got magically transported into I Come In Peace or Out For Justice when I was this kid’s age, I would have gone buckwild!

    Anyway, that’s just a rant I’ve had to get off my chest for 21 years now, having seen it in a 1000+ seat theater opening night, with barely anyone in it.

  63. That’s a pretty valid criticism. It gives credence that he does talk more like a producer than a 12-year old. In the middle of all the comedy and action that was attempted, the fantasy element was trampled as much as anything else.

    Another thing about the music, it’s very odd to me that Def Leppard’s song was probably the most successful venture to come out of it all, and it wasn’t even used in the movie. And it was their last big hit in America for awhile too.

  64. Musically I’ll always associate this movie with the Megadeth song.

  65. I think I was about 10 years old when this came out and I fairly enjoyed it. Somewhere around there is probably the cutoff for non-ironically enjoying this movie though. Of course I had seen every one of the R-rated movies it references though.

  66. After reading Vern’s review, I realized that I’ve only seen bits and pieces of this film. So I decided to watch the entire thing straight through, and it really is a fascinating mess. I don’t have much to add to the conversation, except that everyone seems to have diagnosed this film properly: it’s tonally all over the place, the rules of its world aren’t very clear, and it doesn’t know what film it’s trying to parody. I think Blapps is right that the precinct is supposed to be a stand in for all movie precincts. But this is still somewhat confusing. It can’t be a world full of everyone movie character, because the villain later enters different movies. So maybe the kid is entering a world full of cop film characters? But this would just show that the filmmakers didn’t understand that there are different kinds of of police genres, which would explain why they so poorly parody the action film genre. There are a few funny moments, and I like how game Schwarzenegger is to make fun of himself.

    One other thing. Why isn’t the internet all up in arms about John McTiernan using lens flares? I happen to like them, and I think they add a sense of atmosphere. But if JJ Abrams is supposedly a lens flare addict, then by that same logic McTiernan is also a lens flare junkie.

  67. It might have been an interesting meta experiment if they’d shot and released a real Jack Slater IV movie, where the story plays out the way it would have if the kid hadn’t got sucked into it. An expensive experiment to be sure, but I bet it would have been the more entertaining movie.

  68. The kid holding the gun at one point is a kind of jarring bit looking back from a modern perspective. No way you could do that in a PG-13 movie now, let alone any movie really. Studios would be burning the film (or erasing the digital data) faster than you can say “controversy”. It must have made a few of the reviews, but I can imagine if the film wasn’t such a disaster it would be seen with a much more critical eye.

    I remember James Cameron in his T2 commentary saying he made it a point not to give John Connor a weapon at any point during the movie, and it made me think of that scene. He said it in such a way which made me feel he was giving LAS a poke.

  69. Here in the UK they used to cut out the end bit of the gag in that SIMPSONS episode about vigilantism where they all accidently fire guns; the final shot where it was revealed Bart was responsible for the last blast was always cut

  70. I have always been one of the people who enjoyed LAST ACTION HERO with all its flaws, but yesterday I watched COOL WORLD and from now on, whenever anybody puts LAH into a “worst movies” list, I slap him hard and yell: “Motherfucker, have you seen COOL WORLD!?!” As far as 90s movies about people, who cross over in fictional parallel universes go, COOL WORLD makes LAST ACTION HERO look like a flawless masterpiece! Even if we are just comparing Hollywood trainwrecks, COOL WORLD makes them all look like masterpieces.

    That’s all. Proceed with whatever you were doing.

  71. I love COOL WORLD. It’s an absolute mess, an unfinished film basically, but I think it’s funny and it’s a visual/aural treat for buffs of the 90s neo-hippy/rave era. Or at least for me! I won’t claim it’s a good film, but frankly it’s no or not much worse than any of the Bakshi films I’ve seen that turned out as he actually wanted. And it’s certainly a lot more interesting than SPACE JAM, which is a beloved film of my generation due to the “I watched this when I was a kid!” factor.

  72. I have a soft spot for COOL WORLD too, no, the movie doesn’t really work, but it’s such an interesting failure, it’s a total “just how in the hell did this movie get made?” type deal, no way in hell would anything even close to that get made in today’s brain-dead Hollywood.

    So it’s a movie I can’t bring myself to dislike, despite it’s major flaws, because hey, it’s got Brad Pitt as a cool 1940’s guy in a trippy cartoon world, you gotta love it.

  73. As a matter of fact I love all those weirdass movies from the early 90’s that the average person finds repulsive, like NOTHING BUT TROUBLE, TOYS and HUDSON HAWK, of which COOL WORLD is a prime example.

    For whatever reason in the early 90’s Hollywood decided to push the limits of weirdness to see what audiences would tolerate and perhaps not surprisingly none of those movies were hits (well, except for EDWARD SCISSORHANDS I guess), I mean for fuck’s sake even the early 90’s answer to a superhero movie, BATMAN RETURNS, is fucking weird as hell, I love it, absolutely love it.

  74. We´ve said this before, but don´t forget SUPER MARIO BROS and STREET FIGHTER. Glorious failures fro the 90´s and just prime examples of awkwardly forced attempts on adapting video games. But they are in retrospect entertaining in their own right.

  75. Yeah, there is this weird subgenre that I call “Only in the 90s movies” (I admit, the name is neither clever or good). I don’t know what caused them to happen, but it was probably at least particularly because of MTV and the newfound maturity* of comic books in the 80s. I mean we got a SUPER MARIO BROS movie that looks like some super dark cyberpunk shit, but is a light hearted and often way too silly comedy in that decade! And a Schwarzenegger movie with the grim reaper from THE 7th SEAL appearing in the finale! Or TANK GIRL, the most MTV-ish MTV influenced ever! WIth Ice-T playing a kangaroo! Or HACKERS, which seems to take place in a parallel universe!

    *which made them both more sophisticated and trashy at the same time

  76. Now I wanna write a book about some of the weirdest movies from the 90s.

  77. Yeah, TANK GIRL is another example, so it’s not just the early 90’s but throughout the decade, it was just part of the cultural zeitgeist (MYSTERY MEN is a good late decade example).

    There was something about the decade, maybe it was the fact that it was the end of both the century and the millennium and that gave a general sense that anything was possible, there seemed to be an attitude that not everyone shared, sure, but an attitude that hey, maybe America doesn’t have to be an assortment of barely conscious, drooling cretins, maybe we can live a little and try new things, I mean say what you will about FOREST GUMP, but it was the highest grossing movie of 1994 and it wasn’t a damn superhero movie or a TRANSFORMERS flick, that says a lot.

    And then 9/11 scared the ever-loving shit out of everyone and American culture regressed back into infantilism*

    Anyway unfortunately I didn’t like TANK GIRL all that much, I can appreciate what it was going for, but it seemed too cheaply made to really pull it off, I mean it comes from the director of such classics as FREDDY’S DEAD: THE FINAL NIGHTMARE for crying out loud, still a young Naomi Watts in glasses is something even a lot of better movies are lacking.

    *in fairness AMERICAN SNIPER and BOYHOOD have been big hits, showing that there’s still an audience in America for movies about real things and real people.

  78. The Original Paul

    January 25th, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    AMERICAN SNIPER is getting seriously panned over here. I’d pretty much decided not to go see it. I’ve not heard many people mentioning it even here – is there anybody who’s actually enjoyed this film? ‘Cause the impression I’m getting is that it’s one of those films that everybody is hating. Hey, you guys know I’ve been on the lookout for the perfect sniper movie – the one that nails the tension of having to wait ages for a target to show up, get the kill, etc. But from the reviews I’ve read, AMERICAN SNIPER is very very far from that.

    And I’ve ranted enough about it in both the forums and Vern’s review so I won’t belabour the point here, but let’s just say that describing BOYHOOD as “about real things and real people” is, to me, about equivalent to calling a Big Mac “authentic home-grown American cuisine”. That film was about as “real” as a seven-pence coin.

  79. You can debate the quality of the movie’s themselves, just like you can debate the quality of GUMP, but the fact of the matter is they’re still serious-minded dramas and not special effects laden, explosion filled Michael Bay type movies.

    Also Paul, you’re British aren’t you? over in America AMERICAN SNIPER is a huge hit that predictably has many conservatives saying if you don’t like it then you hate America, like a throwback to the Bush days, appropriate given it’s a movie about the Iraq war.

  80. Paul – you do know about SNIPER, right? I’ll have a monstrous review of AMERICAN SNIPER tomorrow morning, but SNIPER with Tom Berenger is the movie you are describing.

  81. And until then we can all speculate about who will choose which side.

  82. The Original Paul

    January 26th, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Vern – I didn’t know about that movie, but I certainly will check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.

    Griff – yeah I get that point. AMERICAN SNIPER has only just been released over here (actually I’m not even sure if it’s out yet, I’ll have to check). I mean, if enough people I trust recommend it then I’ll say hey, screw the critics, and go see it. But again, I’m not getting good “vibes” from its reception so far. Sometimes the critics get it very, very wrong (Carpenter’s THE THING got panned on its initial release after all). I guess the problem is that I’m much less willing to take a chance on a movie these days unless it seems like it’ll be my “thing”. Which in turn means that I miss out on a lot of the good stuff that’s actually outside my normal comfort zone – not that there was too much of that in the cinemas last year.

    And regarding the whole Conservative thing, I’d honestly like to do a comparison of action movies with liberal themes against those with conservative themes in ’em. But maybe not here. Just off the top of my head I could think of some interesting things to say about the RAMBO and ROCKY series.

  83. Yeah, SNIPER is a pretty cool movie that’s all about the idea of hiding out all day and waiting for the one perfect shot. It seems to me like it’s designed as the opposite of RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II’s mowing down armies with machine guns approach to action that was a phenomenon at the time.

  84. AMERICAN SNIPER isn’t being critically panned though. Getting a lot of criticism, yes, but the majority of reviews are positive.

  85. The Original Paul

    January 26th, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Pacman – I haven’t checked out Rotten Tomatoes but it’s had some really bad reviews over here in the UK.

  86. It does seem to be having a wildly different effect in the UK and US. It hasn’t even been that big a hit here, it didn’t even knock TAKEN 3 off No. 1!

  87. Can we think of some other weird movies from the early 90’s/late 80’s? I haven’t seen it but there’s a movie from the director of HEATHERS called MEET THE APPLEGATES about a species of insects that disguise themselves as an all-American 50’s style family, that certainly seems pretty weird.


  89. The Original Paul

    March 22nd, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Griff – I remember that movie! I also remember quite liking it. Had no idea that it was from the guy who made HEATHERS (which I love) though.

  90. Griff:

    THE DARK BACKWARD: Judd Nelson is a standup comedian who becomes successful after growing a third arm out of his back and runs afoul of a crime boss played by Wayne Newton. Bill Paxton costars.

    NICE GIRLS DONT EXPLODE: A shy teenage girl is prevented from dating by her overprotective mother because her hormone-linked pyrokinesis causes spontaneous combustion when she gets horny.

    SONNY BOY: Bluto from Popeye and his wife (David Carradine) adopt a baby kidnapped by Brad Dourif, cut his tongue out, and train him to be an attack dog. It’s a love story.

    SHREDDER ORPHEUS: A retelling of the myth of Orpheus with futuristic skateboarders.

    AMERICA 3000: In the post-apocalypse, women run the world and Bigfoot has a boombox.

    THE STUFF: A sinisterly vague new white foodstuff creates havoc, consumerist satire, and wild Michael Moriarty mega-acting. Larry Cohen writes and directs.

    PARENTS: A totally terrifying “comedy” about a kid who finds out his Rockwellian parents are cannibals. Randy Quaid is the scariest dad ever captured on celluloid.

    FRANKENHOOKER: A young mad scientist’s girlfriend is run over by a radio-controlled lawn mower so he makes her a new body out of parts he got by giving hookers super crack that makes them explode. The VHS box boasted this quote: “If you see only one movie this year, see FRANKENHOOKER–Bill Murray”

    STAY TUNED: John Ritter and his wife get a magic remote or something that sucks them into Hell’s cable network.

    EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY: Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, and some other guy are aliens who come to California to bone Geena Davis and Julie Brown.

    VOYAGE OF THE ROCK ALIENS: I don’t really remember much about this one except that there are Devo aliens and Pia Zadora stars and sings the theme song with Jermaine Jackson. I believe there are guitar-shaped spaceships like a Boston album cover.

    That should keep you busy for a while.

  91. I saw MEET THE APPLEGATES about 12 years ago when I was around 16, and while I knew it was a 15 certificate/R-Rated Movie I assumed it was one of those essentially family-oriented films where they for some reason dropped a handful of F-bombs or something, so I was a little taken aback by how far it went with sex and drug jokes. But I liked it and it stayed with me, and I’d love to see it again as I’m pretty sure it would be even more up my alley now. I looked it up a couple of weeks ago and was disappointed to see it has never made it to DVD.

    MOM AND DAD SAVE THE WORLD I never saw all the way through, but I remember my grandparents, then in their 60s, really enjoying it when it premiered on UK TV. Make of that what you will.

    A little later but cut from a similar cloth; I had fond memories of THE STUPIDS, fond memories which were more or less destroyed when I revisited it a few years ago. A couple of bits did stand up, particularly Christopher Lee’s cameo (“Release the Drive-Bee!”) and I did love the family’s Claymation pets, which perhaps represented the end of an era.

  92. The Original Paul

    March 22nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    I’m sure I saw STAY TUNED at one point as well. All I can remember is that at one point they end up going into this cartoon and have to deal with cartoon shit (evil cats, etc). Can’t remember if it was any good or not but I’d definitely check it out again.

  93. The Original Paul

    March 22nd, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    Pacman – sorry about THE STUPIDS. Never go back, eh? I found myself rewatching the old TV series BUGS recently. My ten-year-old self just loved every second of it, but now… well, let’s just say the most enjoyment I got out of it was seeing one character explain labroriously to an audience-surrogate secondary character how this strange device called a “computer mouse” works. I had a similar experience with the old sitcom KEEPING UP APPEARANCES (my adult mind wonders how my child mind, or anybody else, could ever have found that funny. Except in retrospect when the actor who played the straight-laced Conservative neighbour guy got arrested for – I believe – soliciting prostitutes. Or something scandelous.)

    I recently found NUNS ON THE RUN at the DVD store, and bought it… I almost don’t want to watch it. I’m sure a film about Robbie Carlyle and Eric Idle masquerading as nuns to escape cockney gangsters cannot hold up particularly well thirty years after the fact. But it gave me hours of enjoyment as a kid, so what do you do?

  94. Those 80’s/90’s films of Mr. Majestyk’s list are excellently curated choices.
    Earth Girls Are Easy – if you laughed at his summary, you will find it funny. Jeff Goldblum is one of the boners!
    Sonny Boy is a serious drama, with some strange production and casting parameters. Even if you don’t like the plot, you can get along with the performances. Brad Dourif is Igor to Paul Smith’s Bluto.
    Parents is pretty damn creepy.
    Meet the Applegates is odd enough to watch, maybe though the concept overwhelms the plot. I think execs saw people renting Eraserhead and figured some blended cult movies could sell. Applegates is a medley of the Coneheads, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Father Knows Best and John Waters. Maybe all you can do with that is play it straight, but Dabney Coleman in a dress should be funnier.

  95. I only vaguely remember STAY TOONED, but I watched the Chuck Jones segment on YouTube recently, and I’d say it’s some of the best American animation seen on screen over the last 50 years.

  96. The Original Paul

    March 23rd, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Yay! NUNS ON THE RUN holds up pretty well! I’d forgotten that the love interest was played by Camille Coduri (alias Mrs Tyler from “Doctor Who”).

  97. EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY is a personal classic. So is NUNS ON THE RUN. I used to watch that so much as a kid everytime cause HBO used to play it so much. Same with the one with Sean Penn and DeNiro which might’ve well had been called PRIESTS ON THE RUN.

    Only watched STAY TUNED once back when it was fresh on VHS. I do remember laughing a lot as a kid at one point where they show DIFFERENT STROKES but it’s not a riff on the show you’d think about (DIFF’RNT STROKES) but some old men getting multiple strokes. In retrospect I had a pretty morbid sense of humor as a kid but again that’s all I really remember about that one. Might have to track it down again one of these days.

  98. In the spirit of weird 80’s and 90’s movies I also feel that INVADERS FROM MARS, THE GATE, JACOB’S LADDER and RECKLESS KELLY deserve some mentions. So does BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY one of the greatest and most misunderstood sequels of all time.

  99. Wasn’t Camille Corduri also the love interest in KING RALPH?
    Useless trivia: The BILL & TED movies belong to the few ones, that are actually made better by the German dubbing. We are still saying “Volle Kanne, Hoschi!” to this day.

  100. I’ve had PARENTS on the shelf for ages in a box set with Blood Diner and Earth Girls, unseen, so I might check it out now, thanks for the shove guys. Speaking of early Jim Carrey, he was also in late 80’s vampire camp-fest VAMP with Grace Jones. Thats about all I can add to Griff’s wish list for late 80’s.

    And this one’s early 80’s, but I was gonna suggest THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE with Alan Arkin as an ex nazi fighting superhero who’s drinking himself to death in Australia. Also stars Christopher Lee as the villain Mr Midnight, and he has a musical number where he sings about the dangers of alcohol. So it’s a musical/comedy/superhero-spoof/fantasy/community service film.

  101. I should add, CAPTAIN INVINCIBLE was directed by Philippe Mora who did HOWLING 3 THE MARSUPIALS, and was written by Steven E de Souza who wrote 48HRS and COMMANDO. Oh, and DIE HARD.

  102. Steven E de Souza also wrote and directed STREET FIGHTER.

  103. Brodie, EXCELLENT ADVENTURE has most of the good lines, but BOGUS JOURNEY is the superior film. It’s so strange and dark and freewheeling. I love the Evil Robot Us’s, and the ending actually has some kind of emotional resonance as our boys finally grow up and accept their responsibilities. It’s the main reason why I’m still down with them making a third movie one of these days.

  104. That’s a good list Mr. Majestyk and I’m proud to say I’ve already seen a few of those movies, EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY, THE STUFF and PARENTS.

    EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY was a childhood favorite of mine, I actually had a crush on Geena Davis as a kid because of BEETLEJUICE and er, CUTTHROAT ISLAND, so seeing her prancing around in that pink bikini was fun, it was also a hoot to see a young Jeff Goldblum and Jim Carrey.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve seen PARENTS, but I remember it being way more creepy than funny, but in a good way, I also went on a brief Larry Cohen kick in 2009 and watched both GOD TOLD ME TO and THE STUFF, both were good…stuff.

    and I’m also happy to see NUNS ON THE RUN mentioned, more family comedies need group shower scenes and a Nun wearing lingerie.

  105. The Original Paul

    March 24th, 2015 at 2:45 am

    Yay! Other people who’ve seen NUNS ON THE RUN!

    I was genuinely worried that the jokes would be the kind of childish humour that you look at when you’re older and think “Wait, I was amused by that as a kid?” But nope, there’s lots of genuinely well-crafted scenes where the humour comes from the characters of the people involved.

    I also love that in the end credits the two stewardesses are credited as “Charlie McManus” and “Brian Hope”. I forgot about that habit eighties movies had of putting in-jokes in the end credits.

  106. grimgrinningchris

    March 24th, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    Everybody keeps talking about Jeff Goldblum and Jim Carrey in Earth Girls… but forgetting Damon Wayans who is actually very very funny in it.

  107. I remembered who the third alien was the day after I made that post. I regret the error. He’s one of my top two Damon Wayanses.

  108. Did NUNS ON THE RUN feature a chase sequence set in the Leaning Tower of Pisa? If so, that’s all I remember from it.

  109. Damon Wayans is the only Wayans I can seperate from all the others. Four words. THE LAST BOY SCOUT

  110. LOLz, so I just came here to read Point Blank review and came across an (unusual to be fair) shitty ass take by you Vern, rectified only by stumbling upon my own coincidentally spectacular take on it, and commented there. And then I see Last Action Hero in the comments, and think, hmm… this is a movie that dipshits fuck on for no goddam understanding of fun, and I click the bait, and low and behold, shitty ass review met by lost of jerk comments and then this one dude who uses same prosecuting evidence technique as Point Blank for prolly only 2nd time ever, none other than… moi!!!!

    Man, you should like hire me on as a consultant Vernmeister, mebbe for 50/50 on the Amazon fees so we can both live of like 60, no $70 a week!

    P.S. Back on wagon :P

  111. The Original Paul

    March 25th, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Onthewall – nope, different film I think. NUNS takes place entirely in London.

  112. Side note: You guys convinced me to put NUNS ON THE RUN on top of my watchlist.

  113. So I watched PARENTS. Yeah, creepy and disturbing sums it up. That poor kid is either the worlds best child actor or he’s one legitimately traumatized little sprog, cause his demeanor (rightly) didn’t change during the events of the entire film. The kids dream sequence was notably messed up, in a Nightmare On Elm Street way (80’s horrors had to have the dream sequence staple thanks to Freddy, though De Palma did it earlier with CARRIE), when he drowns in his bed of blood.

    From the box set I had I also watched SUNDOWN: THE VAMPIRE IN RETREAT, which I hadn’t seen before, and that was a nice surprise, with M Emmet Walsh as a crusty vampire. The movies concept of vampires trying to live at peace with humans and drink synthetic blood predated TRUE BLOOD by at least fifteen years. Not bad for a late 80’s Bruce Campbell b-grader.

  114. Paul: thanks. Now I just need to remember what film it was I was thinking of then.

  115. Very little I can add to this fine dialogue, so, I’ll just register that my expectations were thoroughly low for this one, and I enjoyed it accordingly. Mostly, I liked the unabashed strangeness of it. I enjoyed the way it divides its time between fictional L.A. and fictional real NYC, that’s a fun way to divide the film. I like the journey that Jack Slater goes on, and the idea that he might have more humanity and character by the end than Arnold himself. I like Jack Slater. Also, as AU_Armageddon noted, Charles Dance gives a tour de force. Just a fun villain. There are so many great character actors giving really fun performances: Quinn, Carney, Prosky, Noonan, Abraham, Stallone’s buddy from LOCKUP as the chief. I liked how it embraced its own stupidity but also had some real heart to it. And I loved the one liner’s.

    I don’t think the kid gives one of the great performances of all time, but he wasn’t particularly distracting or bothersome. I liked his earnest, enthusiastic quality. He’s a pretty lovable movie geek, I thought.

    Anyway, not a great film, pretty darn all over the place. Like Vern says, it’s a mess, and I’m glad it exists.

  116. Sony is putting this out on 4K Blu-ray in May. It will feature deleted scenes, an alternate ending, and most intriguingly an audio commentary track from McTiernan.


  117. I’m actually surprised that this edition doesn’t come from a German label.

  118. This movie is underrated, and worth watching. It flopped partly because it was mis-marketed. It also has large flaws, but it’s better than its reputation. Though I would have previously seen him in The Golden Child and Alien³ I think this was the first role where I was consciously aware of Charles Dance.

    When Robert Patrick, dressed like the T-1000, walks past, I don’t think he’s supposed to be the T-1000, just a regular cop who happens to look like Robert Patrick, causing Danny to do a double-take. And yes, there’s a cartoon cat, which seems like an unlikely addition to Jack Slater IV but there it is. The point of it was to escalate Danny’s proof that they’re inside a movie to ridiculous levels, only to have Jack find nothing weird about it.

    It would be like if you went into the Marvel or DC universe and tried to point out to the man on the street how all the gods of mythology are real and magic is real and ghosts are real and there’s time travel and sentient machines and alien empires and mutants and the guy just looked at you and said “Yeah, so? What’s weird about that?” And then a Transformer showed up and the guy still didn’t think it meant anything.

    Austin O’Brien’s performance is not quite good enough, but as you say, it’s not fair to criticise a child actor. It would be more fair to say that the script should have placed less of a burden on him and avoided giving him things that a child actor couldn’t do. Possible experiment: watch this back-to-back with Lawnmower Man 2 and see if his acting improved.

    I liked Another Stakeout the first time I saw it but when I tried to rewatch it again recently I couldn’t get through it. The comedy of misunderstandings and the constant bickering of the main characters was tiresome, and for some reason Rosie O’Donnell wasn’t as enjoyable as the first time.

    Re: flyingguillotine: I didn’t get the feeling the movie blamed Danny for not standing up to the home invader in the real world. He blamed himself and he blamed the real world for being a much worse place than the movie world. There’s a deliberate contrast there. In the real world there’s no justice. This is delightful if you’re a recently-escaped movie villain like Benedict but terrible if you’re an innocent victim like Danny.

    Re: Justin: I thought it was Leo “The Fart.” Like “The Fart” was his nickname.

    Re: Franchise Fred: God that would have been awesome if Jack had caught the home invader and avenged Danny. Like CJ Holden said, it wouldn’t have been in keeping with the movie’s premise that the real world sucks, but it would have been worth it.

    Re: CJ Holden: The rules of the ticket seem to be that you can use it to cross over into any movie’s world, not just the movie it was originally the ticket for. This isn’t explored fully, but they only had so much time I guess. In the Jack Slater IV universe, Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t exist, because that would be weird, for Jack to look exactly like the most famous action star of the time. So in the Slater universe the Terminator movies starred Sylvester Stallone. At a time when Stallone and Schwarzenegger had a friendly rivalry going on, it was a pleasant surprise to hear that Jack Slater say that he thinks Stallone is great.

    Re: Ray Garraty #47: Some critic’s review of Last Action Hero mentioned that a giant statue of Jack Slater was built and sent floating down the river at Cannes. You have to love their confidence.

    Re: clubside: Most movies drag about ⅔ of the way through. :-)

    Re: Michaelangelo: Those are the four best Steven Seagal movies! The golden age. In my personal canon the last golden-age Seagal is On Deadly Ground but you have to skip over Under Siege to get to it. Siege is a fine movie but it doesn’t feel as much like a classic Seagal movie.

    Re: neal2zod: FWIW Albert Brooks plays “Albert Brooks,” a sleazy, egotistical documentary filmmaker version of himself in Real Life (1979). That might be a separate but related category.

    Re: Blapps: That’s a brilliant explanation! Sadly I don’t think that’s what the movie intended, but it’s a great idea. :-)

    Re: Stu: I had a similar experience. Only when watching Last Action Hero on video and seeing the closed captioning for “achers” did I get the joke.

    Re: RBatty024: I don’t remember any lens flares in Last Action Hero but I believe you, I’ll take your word for it. The only difference would be those weren’t added digitally? (I don’t know that for certain.)

    Re: Griff: I must be more normal than I realised because “repulsive” is a great word to describe the impression Nothing But Trouble made on me. Not a fan of Cool World, Hudson Hawk, or most Tim Burton movies either. Toys was kind of disappointing and more noise than signal, but at least it wasn’t depressing like Cool World or disturbing like Nothing But Trouble. And Toys had its good moments, and I could see what they were going for. That Thomas Dolby song was great. I probably just have different movies that I like that nobody else likes.

    Re: Shoot McKay: Street Fighter I like. Also Double Dragon, which is objectively not very good but I still enjoy it. Add it to the unsuccessful 1990s video game adaptation list. Robert Patrick is enjoyable as the villain and the whole movie seems to radiate simpler, more innocent times.

    Re: CJ Holden: Hackers was a pleasant surprise. Loved Mystery Men. Hated Tank Girl. Interesting note about Tank Girl though: I saw it at the movie theatre and my friend pointed out that the audience was half comic book/SF fans and half girls who looked like Tank Girl.

    Re: Vern: Yay for Mom and Dad Save the World!

    Re: Mr. Majestyk: Glad I saw The Dark Backward more recently. I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate it in my youth. The greasy, dirty look and feel would have been too oppressive. Interestingly, it has some of the same personnel as Going Overboard, an obscure movie with a young, unknown Adam Sandler as a cruise ship comedian that I found on DVD at a dollar store.

    Sonny Boy: Only saw the first part of it but David Carradine does a better job of playing a woman than you’d expect. Brad Dourif in his scene reminded me of David Cross.

    The Stuff: Found it on VHS at a thrift store and finally got to see it, after hearing about it for decades. Michael Moriarty as the cool hero, with a good hairpiece! A nice upgrade from his character in Q the Winged Serpent, from the same director. He looks a bit like Joe Pantoliano in The Sopranos.

    Parents: If you hadn’t mentioned this, I was about to! Directed by Bob Balaban. Randy Quaid is great as the super-square 1950s dad. Originally saw it late at night, half-awake, and it was perfect that way.

    Stay Tuned: Hell gets souls by giving TV addicts a satellite dish with 666 channels. John Ritter and Pam Dawber are the latest unfortunate couple. Jeffrey Jones in possibly my favourite role of his, as Spike, a network executive/devil. Eugene Levy as Crowley, a hapless junior executive/ex-comedian that he plays kind of like Bobby Bittman, if he died and went to Hell. Lots of parodies of network promos and shows, some great, some lame, but with that many, you can’t lose. Oddly enough the Chuck Jones segment was widely-praised but I found it sad somehow. But my younger self was allergic to things that were dated in style.

    Re: CJ Holden: What does “Volle Kanne, Hoschi!” mean? Google Translate says “Full pot, Hoschi!” which suggests something is lost in the translation.

  119. I have grown kinder to this movie as the years pass, but what doesn’t work still doesn’t work. It’s not just mis-marketing. The finished product is a melange of competing objectives trapped in a script that passed through more hands than my Playboy 25th Anniversary Special Edition. The original idea most likely would have worked. Danny is sucked into the world of his favorite action movies, but within that world, it still takes it’s shit seriously (you know, like action movies in the 80s and 90s generally did) and is as violent as they come. But Danny, who’s watched a shit ton of movies in this genre, would wryly comment on their absurdities (thereby presaging the post modernist snark, meta commentaries and over-quippy dialogues that pepper the action flicks of today).

    The finished product however, sees Danny in an action movie that’s ALREADY a parody of an action movie. Like a Star Wars fan crossing over into the film that then strangely plays out like SPACEBALLS. And so you get action scenes shot like McTiernan never helmed PREDATOR or DIE HARD. Comedy which veers from strangely sophisticated (it is super cool that a movie aimed at the Schwarzenegger Blockbuster crowd presumes the same audience has also seen THE SEVENTH SEAL and would get sly nods like the fact that Danny’s teacher who talks about Hamlet being played by Laurence Olivier is Joanne Plowright AKA Mrs Olivier) to deeply juvenile (a flatulent mobster called Leo The Fart???That animated cat???). A movie that thinks it’s central premise of the Biggest Action Star sending up his image is the coolest concept ever in a world that’s already seen TWINS & KINDERGARTEN COP is pretty much starting off on the wrong foot.

    Quinn is hilarious, Dance is cool, the Arnie as Hamlet short is still something I’d wish an actual movie could be made out of, but the rest is pretty sketchy.

  120. “Volle Kanne, Hoschi” is hard to translate. The translation you got is technically correct though. But the meaning of “Volle Kanne” in that context is more like “Full throttle”, “Totally hardcore” or as another another online translator says, “Balls to the walls”. “Hoshi” can be translated with “dude”, but I’m 99% sure that word didn’t even exist until the first BILL & TED came to Germany. So maybe the closest thing to an English translation of “Volle Kanne, Hoshi” in its late 80s context might be “Totally radical, dude!”

  121. It’s like it shot out the gate being its own third sequel, with all the bloat and excess and weird idiosyncrasies that usually comes with.
    I love this movie too. Haven’t seen it in years, and it’s got its problems, but if you extend it the same degree of suspension of critical thinking any loud crass maximalist 80s or 90s demands, it’s great. The problem is that because it’s trying to be smartass, it’s kinda hard not to be a smartass right back at it – so I completely get why it’s so ridiculed when other, more straightforward movies get a pass.

  122. Damn, no edit button. Well, it’s clear enough I guess.
    @Felicity, loving this running commentary as you trawl through the backlog.

  123. I love so much about LAST ACTION HERO but there’s no getting around the kid. It’s hard to love a movie except for its main character and premise. But I was wondering how you would do it without the kid and I thought maybe an adult loser who delusionally thinks he can hang with Jack Slater. And thinking of the comedy stars of the time I decided it should’ve been Chris Elliot, who was between Get a Life and CABIN BOY. That would’ve been a movie.

  124. I think we all know who would have been tapped to play the insufferable adult male comic relief sidekick to an over-the-top action hero in a 90s movie, and, unfortunately, his name rhymes with Glob Rider.

  125. While I have nothing to add regarding LAST ACTION HERO I did want to point out revisiting this post thanks to Felicity we all got a sort of confirmation that Griff is still out there somewhere or had his Gravatar account hijacked as his avatar changed.

  126. Oh, wow! Good observation, Chris. I always worried something happened to him since he just kinda disappeared after being such a prolific poster for so long.

  127. I did notice that, and a while ago I stumbled upon what I believe is Griff’s Disqus account; can’t be 100% sure but the name (the word “Kawaii” was involved), avatar, subject matter and tone of nostalgic affection for a not-that-bygone era all gave me strong Griffian vibes, as did their other posts when I had a look. I think it had been a couple of months since he posted, but more recent than he had here for sure. I stumbled on it via Nathan Rabin’s Rotten Tomatoes article on GRANDMA’S BOY if anyone wishes to do any of their own detective work on the matter.

  128. In all fairness, if I remember right he didn’t just disappear, there was a bit of a fight involved after our tries to keep him away from a certain dark side of society didn’t really seem to work. Still hope he is okay and doing well though.

  129. My memory is that those died down and he posted here fairly contently for a while before he disappeared, but yeah there was a lot of that in 2019 and I think reviews for THE MASK, CAPTAIN MARVEL (what a shock!) and in particular the HIGHLANDER series kept going on tangents of that not-particularly McCloudian nature. Rightly or wrongly I mostly stayed out of it, but it wasn’t much fun to (repeatedly) see. Yeah, I hope he’s happier now.

  130. I think that a really snarky movie critic played by Jon Lovitz, Danny DeVito or Bill Murray would have been the way to go. With the last one we would have the bonus of several actors coming forward today and tell us about how he once hurt them with his dry wit.

    It’s always interesting to read what your younger self had to say about stuff. I’m not in this thread much, so it doesn’t really apply here. But in other older, more heated discussions I feel i would have been my own fiercest opponent. The guy is way too serious for my taste.

  131. Or you could go the way of Gilliam’s Man Who Killed Don Quixote and have it be a slick hot shot 80’s action movie producer who gets put through the ringer of his own over the top action movie bullshit. But this is just to say that there are so many ways to go about it that aren’t the damn insufferable kid route. I still enjoy this movie but, yes, there are things that make it rough.

  132. Griff totally made an exit speech before he left. I don’t remember the thread but I know he got mad, said we were all basically intolerant social justice warriors, and peaced out.

  133. Maggie – I think I remember something like that, but then him coming back? If he announced he was leaving at the time I didn’t realize it, so I’ve always worried something happened to him. I thought I had confirmed from the back end here that his last posts were normal friendly stuff, but the one I thought was last was pre-CAPTAIN MARVEL, so I guess not. Anyway I certainly don’t miss those arguments, I just hope he stopped posting by choice and didn’t get run over or locked up or something. Same goes for The Original Paul.

  134. Re: KayKay: No, not just mis-marketing, but that was part of it. But you’re right about those flaws.

    Re: CJ Holden: Thanks! The idea of “balls to the wall” in German makes me think of the 1980s heavy metal band Accept.

    Re: dreadguacamole: Thanks! :-)

    Re: VERN, Mr. Majestyk, pegsman, Drew: Great ideas on how to get around the problem of the child actor. I like the idea of a film fan, snide critic, or hotshot producer going into the movie and commenting on it.

    There have already been a few movies with similar world-crossing premises to Last Action Hero but with non-child actors. In Delirious (1991), when the hero finds himself inside the soap opera world, not only is he familiar with the characters and tropes, he’s also the writer, which allows him to take full advantage. Pleasantville (1998) has characters pulled into the world of a sitcom, one of whom decides to enjoy it. Purple Rose of Cairo (1984) has characters cross over in both directions, and gets more into the consequences of the damage to the fictional world that this causes. Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (1984) and In the Mouth of Madness (1994) are not quite as good examples since the characters don’t take advantage of their knowledge as much, but they’re related to the concept.

    It occurs to me that Hamlet is an apt choice for Danny’s class to be studying because it has a play within a play; Last Action Hero has a film within a film. (And a film within a film within a film, if you count Stallone’s Terminator and everything else at the video store. What would happen if Danny used the ticket in a movie theatre within the Slater-verse? Could he end up in the Stallone Terminator universe? And would there be movies in that universe, and could he go into them? Back in the real world could he buy a camcorder, write a script where his life is perfect or he’s God, film it, and then go into that universe? That would be a pretty good use of the ticket!))

  135. Felicity, never thought of the play within play parallel before. That’s awesome. And great ideas about using the ticket in world or making his own film. If only we’d gotten sequels…

  136. Revisited this over the weekend and was pleased to discover my childhood self was right– this movie rules. Yes, there are some items to nitpick– the “real world” definitely still feels and works like a movie, for one. And I get how you could find the kid annoying, though I don’t mind him. But I found it to be very clever and funny, with the screenwriters gleefully throwing in every idea that would be “too much” in a LETHAL WEAPON or a DIE HARD. And even if it’s still overly movie-y, I love that slight tonal shift in the third act, where the stakes get higher, and we get great moments like Jack telling Arnold “All you’ve ever brought me is pain” and Benedict’s realization that the bad guys can win in this universe. Plus it is pretty mean in its self-deprecation– those bits with Arnold and Maria especially.

    Weird that Jack never heard Mozart, though. You’d think Movie World would have access to plenty of public domain stuff.

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