90s

'Last Action Hero' Is A Bizarre Fever Dream  

Tamara Jude
10.9k views 16 items

The fever-dream moments from Last Action Hero drive you to either love the movie or hate it. To understand why this film is better than you think, you must first embrace it as an extremely ludicrous and self-aware satire. Plenty of the most brilliant satirical movies polarize audiences because fans take them too seriously. Occasionally, satires even far exceed the works they poke fun at, making for an even better movie experience. While this may not be the case for Last Action Hero, you still have to appreciate it for its over-the-top action, bizarre characters, and meta plotline.

The film follows young Danny Madigan as he enters the fictional world of his favorite action hero, Jack Slater, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Danny's infiltration of the already bizarre world of Slater ends up resulting in real-world chaos. Even the hilariously high number of cameos in Last Action Hero feeds into its excessiveness. Taking this into account, Last Action Hero's most bizarre scenes could be considered some of cinema's greatest feats - and might speak to its overall brilliance.

Danny Uses A Golden Ticket From Harry Houdini To Enter The Movie 
Danny Uses A Golden Ticket Fro... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 'Last Action Hero' Is A Bizarre Fever Dream
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Most of Last Action Hero takes place in Slater's over-the-top fictional world, but even the parts of the story set in the supposed "real world" present some big stretches. Danny receives a magical ticket from Nick the projectionist, who claims it belonged to famed magician Harry Houdini. 

How did Nick obtain this decades-old relic? Also, why does he freely give it away instead of using it for himself or auctioning it off for millions of dollars? We never find out. But entrusting this powerful magical item to a child who carries a slight obsession for an action star he considers a "father figure" feels both morally and narratively wrong.

Danny DeVito Voices Whiskers, An Animated Cat Detective  
Danny DeVito Voices Whiskers, ... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 'Last Action Hero' Is A Bizarre Fever Dream
Photo: Columbia Pictures

In Jack Slater's action-packed world, no one bats an eye that an animated cat works as a member of the police force. In fact, Whiskers is one of the best cops around, and he's voiced by Danny DeVito. While obviously a sendup of the animated live-action crossovers of the '90s, this character's inclusion in the movie remains strange.

Maybe DeVito went uncredited for this role for a reason. 

Slater Performs 'Hamlet' While Puffing A Cigar  
Slater Performs 'Hamlet' While... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 'Last Action Hero' Is A Bizarre Fever Dream
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Danny's fascination with Slater seeps into his everyday life, leading to this baffling scene. Bored in class as his teacher speaks about Shakespeare's Hamlet, he soon daydreams of Slater delivering the famous soliloquy instead. Besides the cigar, other unforgettable moments from this scene include his use of Yorick’s skull to take out an enemy.

And let's not forget the fully automatic arms and incendiary blasts... just the way the Bard intended.

Danny Guesses (Correctly) That John Practice Is A Villian Because The Real Actor Plays One In Another Movie 
Danny Guesses (Correctly) That... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 'Last Action Hero' Is A Bizarre Fever Dream
Photo: Columbia Pictures

Thanks to his movie knowledge from the real world, Danny holds an advantage over the bad guys in the film. Not only does he know the location of the villain's hideout, but he also easily spots a bad guy in the making. F. Murray Abraham's history as a villain in Amadeus proves to be helpful knowledge when John Practice, Slater's partner, turns on his allies.

Anyone who plays Antonio Salieri should probably never be trusted.