Parents' Guide to

Last Action Hero

By Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Arnold spoofs action movies, adds more violence.

Movie PG-13 1993 131 minutes
Last Action Hero Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 8+

Entertaining Way To Have Fun & Go Meta

Was debating showing this movie to my almost 8yr old and decided to watch it on my own again first, just to be sure. In many ways it is standard 90s action movie fare with explosions, people getting shot in ways that defy physics and are mostly bloodless, and women in tight clothes. If this was all it had been, I would have said it's an age 12 or 13 and up movie. However, this movie is clearly doing something different in that it is largely a commentary and satire of the action movie formula. In my mind this offers parents a nice way to discuss the falsehoods and tropes that these movies contain and how they are eliciting certain reactions from the audience. For example, once the young protagonist goes into the movie he comments over and over about why things are happening and how ridiculous it all is. For a smart, sharp 8yr old, this is a great intro to these kinds of movies so they don't just accept the cartoon physics as reality when they get to see other examples. For things that make this movie skew younger, there are a bunch of fart jokes in the middle and lots of cheesy puns from Arnold. Also a cartoon cat detective shows up briefly to help. There is also next to no profanity, including a scene where the young kid tries to get Arnold to say a swear word but he can't because the movie is rated PG-13. Arnold does smoke a cigar a couple times, but I've already talked to my kid about how disgusting smoking is. And the movie is helped for younger kids by having the in-movie villains show up as their regular selves in plain clothes and be interviewed about the movie. As for the women's treatment: there are many L.A. women in tight clothes, and I think there were some butts in bikinis, but no overt nudity. The cartoon cat detective smacks the butt of a female cop (he has been paired up with her for comedic effect) - I will definitely tell my 8yr old that this is an unacceptable thing to have happen since the movie does not emphasize that. And Jack Slade's daughter is supposed to kiss a geeky guy as part of her sorority hazing, but she kisses the 13yr old protagonist instead in a very PG display. The Slade character is most excited about meeting the young kid's mom, with whom he is delighted to simply talk and listen to classical music. This is nice since it's a deviation from the usual "hot chick" that the hero would have to end up liking, and it is the only romantic-ish moment in the movie. For the more serious elements, and why I took off a star: there is a ton of guns fired, even if they have pretty much no effect on things, it is still a Lot of shooting. Also, the film renders the real world as quite scary and awful at times. The young protagonist is robbed at knife point by a 1990s NYC junkie in his own apartment when his mom is not there! And he must unlock his handcuffs and call police for help on his own. This was probably the scariest scene for me to imagine my child seeing since even I am very uneasy about kids-in-peril situations as "entertainment." Also, a villain throws the protagonist kid off a roof, but he is saved by his clothes getting hooked on something. Jack Slade's own fictional son is killed by falling of a roof, but this is shown in black and white flashbacks and we are told it is in the fictional movie, and didn't really happen. There is a scene where a villain shoots a stranger in the real world for no reason, but we don't see the man getting shot only the villain firing a gun. And a girl who looks late teens early 20s asks the villain if he "wants to have fun" while showing him that she has on a sleeveless black dress under her coat (but it doesn't show anything of her body). The villain asks her how old she is, and she just walks away. This is the most suggestive thing in the movie, and is disturbing for adults but will likely go over the heads of younger kids who can be told she was offering him a tour of the city or something. As for race/ethnicity/diversity: There is virtually none - booo! There is a Japanese American actor playing a henchman (like Odd Job from the Bond movies). He shows up as a silent adversary/butler a couple of times. But the only character of color to speak is the African American chief of police, and he is a stereotype of the standard action movie police chief who is always angry and yelling, but he is not rendered as a racist caricature, thank god! Beyond the more serious things though, the movie is as fun, goofy, entertaining, action packed, and utterly ridiculous as I remember from seeing it back in the 90s. And if you are watching it with your kid so you can talk them through some of the rough spots, I see no reason not to show it to a mature 8yr old or regular old 10yr old.
1 person found this helpful.
age 9+

Not bad

I remember this movie good.

This title has:

Great messages
1 person found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (8 ):

Settle in for a long viewing experience that's less an action movie proper than a send-up of the action movie genre. You get the feeling that this film is Schwarzenegger's fantasy: Sick of his role as an action hero and his films' predictable plots, the star now skewers what made him famous. He also lampoons an action hero's debonair image: Divorced Jack lives in a furnitureless apartment overlooking a freeway. He's just as lonely as Danny and even tells Danny not to idolize him the way he does -- a great, down-to-earth message for celeb-obsessed kids.

The other fun thing about Last Action Hero is all the movie references. Watch for shout-outs to Terminator, Basic Instinct, and other genre-defining movies -- How many can you spot? But playing "spot the reference" won't stop viewers from getting bored with the long running time. And the two-movies-in-one format is unwieldy at times. It gets too caught up with catering to action-movie fans before it gets to the interesting stuff -- like how an action star would adjust to the real world. For instance, Jack is thrilled to just talk to a woman he meets instead of doing what an action hero would do: ogle her, hit on her, or ignore her. Fewer killings and more thoughtful moments like this would have made Last Action Hero a more well-rounded movie.

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