In last’ year’s James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films writer/director Shane Black was responsible for no less than 6 of the films included. Some of them were more Christmas(ish) than others, but they all deserved their place. If you missed last year’s compendium of Christmas(ish) classics and need a reminder of the man’s legendary contribution to Christmas(ish) cinema then the magnificent 6 were the following:
If that wasn’t enough, although he actually had nothing else to do with the movie, he was the person who came up with the title for Die Hard, which, as we all know, is the greatest Christmas(ish) movie of all time.
So Black has more than made a sufficient contribution to the world of Christmas(ish) films and I thought it highly unlikely there’d be any films of his on this year’s list. But there is (at least) one that I managed to leave out last year.
So I’ve included it this year.
Unfortunately it’s nowhere near as good as any of those films listed above.
Seriously, it’s not even as good as The Last Boy Scout.
The movie I speak of is, of course, 1993’s Last Action Hero.
On paper this should be a good movie. Not only was it co-written by Black, it was directed by John McTiernan, the director of the aforementioned Die Hard.
It also stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, a man who may not be troubling the Academy Awards any time soon but who knows his way around an action film and who was very much at the peak of his powers at the time this movie was made.
So Last Action Hero should be a fair bit better than it actually is.
The trouble is, it isn’t really clear what kind of film it’s meant to be. Originally conceived as an affectionate tongue-in-cheek parody of action movie clichés, the actual clichés it mocks are less recognisable than the clichés it uses unironically at other points in the running time. It’s basically a mess from start to finish.
That said, it is still quite entertaining in a ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ kind of way.
Score for Christmasishness
It’s not a Christmas film at all, and none of the events in the movie are set at Christmas time, except for the opening scenes, which are set in a ‘movie within a movie’ and no doubt attempting to parody the fact that a lot action movies (not least those written by Black and directed by McTiernan) end up being set at Christmas. As satire it fails miserably, but there’s just enough Christmasishness in these scenes to suit my purposes, so Last Action Hero makes the cut.