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'Hero' Makes a Few Believers in Real World

July 01, 1993|LYNN SMITH | Lynn Smith is a staff writer for The Times' View section.

In "The Last Action Hero," a magic movie ticket transports a boy from the real world of New York to the reel world of an action thriller series starring his hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Rated PG-13)

It wasn't always clear that this action thriller was a parody of an action thriller to Nick, 12, his brother Scott, 9, and their friend Steven, 9. Nevertheless, they gave it three thumbs up.

"I just liked it all. There was no part I didn't like," Scott said.

"The acting was really good," Steven added.

"I liked how it switched from real to fantasy to real," Nick said. "First they showed (Arnold Schwarzenegger) as a hero not getting hurt in the fantasy. Then in the real world he punches the window, and it's real, and his hand hurts and he feels it.

One of the things he liked was the unconventional portrayal of the hero's beautiful daughter. "She was like her dad; she was really into guns. One part where he fell into the La Brea Tar Pits, she came in her big truck, she was going over cars and things. . . . It's different from all the other movies where there's usually a princess and you have to save the princess."

The movie had its humorous moments too, said Nick, who heard both adults and kids laughing at the shootings, explosions, one-liners and takeoffs.

"I only heard adults laughing," I said.

"That's because adults laugh louder than kids," he explained.

Oh, right.

"It was kind of like 'Hot Shots! Part Deux,' " Steven said. "There's funny things in the background."

But Nick said the satire wasn't as obvious as in "Hot Shots" when the Energizer bunny ran across the screen, or in "Naked Gun 2 1/2" "when she slaps him, he catches one hand, then catches another and a third hand slaps him. In that one, you could totally tell."

As far as levels of violence, Nick also didn't see much difference in this PG-13 movie and the R-rated movies he often sees. Perhaps the language was stronger in the R-rated films, he suggested, but the general mayhem was equal to the more straightforward Schwarzenegger movies. But in this movie, the central character was a boy who not only watched the violence in movies but also was mugged in his apartment and held off enemies with a handgun in the "real world."

Nick believes fictional violence is stronger than violence in real life.

"In 'Batman,' every place you looked there is a gun. Like this movie." But then again, the movie pointed out that real life can be more cruel. He noted that one bad guy, transported from fiction to the streets of New York, watches in amazement as hoodlums kill a man for his shoes. "So he says, 'Let me try this,' and he shoots the guy, then he waits and waits. Then he realizes no one really cares.

"Real life, especially in New York, is really hard."

If Scott had any complaint, it was that the movie was missing a moral element. In his favorite movies, he said, "you can tell what you should do and what you shouldn't do." In this one, he said, he couldn't quite tell.

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