Mascott’s Movie Rewind – True Lies

Originally posted June 8th, 2010.

The Kidd here. I told you once Version 2.0 of the site was unleashed, there’d be more content than you could shake a stick at. Now, why you’d want to shake a piece of wood at your computer screen or smartphone (as InfamousKidd.com now features a mobile version) is beyond me, but I don’t judge what you choose to do behind closed doors. However, as part of this expanded content, not only would you get the same classic Kidd commentary in the daily headlines and reviews, there’d be a new forum for us to expose you to a variety of fresh perspectives and opinions offered up by some talented individuals who share a love and passion for movies and entertainment. There’d be a whole assortment of columns tackling a number of different topics, and, after wading through a bunch of submissions, Mascott is the best I could come up with.

If you thought I was whack, just wait until you get a load of Mascott, because this dude is way out there. He lives his life by a strict set of rules that no one else is aware of, and he is absolutely uncompromising unless a compromise is called for. As part of his new weekly column, Mascott will be accepting an assignment to go back in time (figuratively, certainly not literally as we don’t possess the technology yet) and watch movies that some of you have seen before and some of you haven’t. What does he have to say about them? Who knows? Only Mascott knows for sure, and you’ll have to check him out to find out. So, without further adieu, I present to you the first edition of MASCOTT’S MOVIE REWIND… and don’t worry. We did a fairly half-assed background check on the guy, and nothing too alarming came up. So enjoy…

True Lies-1994

TRUE LIES
1994
DIRECTED BY JAMES CAMERON

I’m glad that The Kidd’s definition of “alarming” is as lenient as it is. Also that things that happen in Canada don’t really count.

SO! TRUE LIES! As a warning, there are two very general words that I can see myself using a lot in this article, and they are “awesome” and “ridiculous.” I couldn’t imagine two better suited words to describe this movie. (If it makes it any easier, “Awesomediculous,” but I can’t promise anything for that one.)

If I’m going to start anywhere it might as well be with the poster. There are few things on Earth that make me cringe like movie poster taglines. There is absolutely no difference between a good tagline and an awful one, because once you read any one a second time you just go “Ehhh….” and question what it was exactly that compelled you to want to see this film in the first place. That, and the fact that the tagline for this particular movie makes my head hurt. It fits the movie once you see it, sure, but I saw the poster before seeing the movie, and I had to stare at it for a good fifteen seconds diagramming the sentence in my head to figure out just what it meant. To say the least of it, if that sentence was to be graded by a teacher, it would be circled with red pen, and there might be a frowny face next to it.

Before it was assigned to me, I’d never watched this movie, and probably never would have. The honest truth is that I kind of wrote off James Cameron after I saw AVATAR. I suppose we should get this one out of the way in the first article – I DID NOT LIKE AVATAR. It’s just something about the way Cameron did things with that movie, and I’m not talking about wearing money hats down Sunset Boulevard on his way to egg Kathryn Bigelow’s house. I admit, the only movie of his that I’ve seen is AVATAR, and while it’s obvious from that that he’s a very talented filmmaker, I just didn’t like that movie and if Cameron said it was his best I didn’t see much reason to (On a side note, I refuse to watch TITANIC unless a woman is coercing me to do so; regrettably, I am prone to negotiation with such terrorists).

I do own a copy of THE TERMINATOR, I should say. It’s on Blu-ray, and I got it as a gift mere hours before I saw AVATAR. It sits, unopened, along with my other Blu-ray movies. Actually, now that I think of it, almost half of the movies I own on Blu-ray are  still in their shrink wrap. That’s…probably not good.

Action comedies are far too often incredibly hard to watch. CHARLIE’S ANGELS comes to mind, as does HUDSON HAWK, HOLLYWOOD HOMICIDE, HANCOCK, and a bunch of other movies I don’t particularly feel the need to pain anyone by mentioning. Most of those movies are a pill that you have to swallow to get through a year of films-An obligation of sorts to your local theatre to take part in a viewing experience. TRUE LIES is an action comedy, (You know this in the very beginning because Tom Arnold is in it and it’s just after the point Arnold has given up on being taken seriously anymore, i.e. post-LAST ACTION HERO) but it’s not hard to watch like those others. It drinks like a carbonated beverage; but not a soda. Maybe it’d be better described as that wonderful Sparkling Apple Cider they sell so much of these days. A very classy beverage for casual occasions that anyone can drink. I love that stuff. I only ever really get to drink it around special occasions like family parties, for no other reason then I won’t buy it for myself. Whenever I get Apple Juice from the supermarket those bottles stare down from a shelf just out of reach. I can’t buy a bottle for myself, just because I know where it leads and I refuse to go down that path again (If you REALLY want to follow that as a metaphor you certainly can, but even at the heart of it I’m just talking about my love affair with bubbly apple juice).

This movie gets ridiculous, but in awesome ways. For example, this is not a movie that is above any of the following-

  • Arnold criticizing the policing abilities of a horse that refuses to jump to its death.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis dropping an SMG down a set of stairs, and on the way down it manages to kill no less than eight dudes.
  • A gag involving someone getting blown out the front of a moving van by the blowback from a rocket launcher, and subsequently run over. (Moments later, there’s a great nod to the end of the Micheal Caine version of THE ITALIAN JOB)
  • “I Was Struck in the Testicles (by a Harrier Jet)”  (Incidentally, this is also the title of my favorite country song).

It’s an action movie, right? So it needs an utterly and completely ridiculous and explosive ending, right? It has that. Remember the end of DIE HARD 2? (It’s been twenty years, I can talk about it.) Where Kuntakinte fights Hudson Hawk on the wing of a 747, falls into the engine and is spat out the back like a bad omelet? It’s like that, only more exciting, and just as awesome to describe to people. If you watched just a clip from the very end of the movie out of context, you couldn’t be blamed for thinking that it was from a Harold and Kumar movie.

It’s true, some of the comedy in this action comedy does fall flat, but it’s never jarring to the point where you’re ripped from the movie. The reason for that being that there’s usually an action scene in which Arnold is just generally being a badass  going on that framed the joke that died on the table. Also, the movie could have been served by being maybe a half hour shorter. Two hours and fifteen minutes is around the right running time for a film that requires an amount of thought that this one doesn’t quite reach.

The action bits are great. The comedy bits are usually pretty good. Jamie Lee Curtis’ naughty bits are very nearly shown. There’s very little about the movie that’s not to like if you’re a dude who has finds even the vaguest enjoyment in action movies, and that’s the only real price of admission I can think of. If you were looking for an action comedy like GHOSTBUSTERS or THE NAKED GUN, that’s not what you’re going to get. The explosions take precedence over the yuks, but they coincide and work together like champs.

I can’t imagine this movie being made by anyone but Cameron. Now that I see just where he touches and crafts a movie, I can appreciate his style.  He makes a movie that’s almost a parody of itself, but always making sure that you appreciate the genre. Cameron wants you to have fun with this movie, and you can tell that he had a lot of fun making it. It practically starts off with the movie politely asking you, “Hey, could you maybe, possibly….sorta…suspend belief for, like, two hours?” If you say, “Oh, sure Mr. Movie, I’ll do just that,” then you can surely relish what Mr. Movie has to offer.

Favorite Part – Arnold Schwarzenegger telling Tom Arnold to “blow me.” Beautiful.

Best Actor – It pains me to say it, but it’s got to go to Bill Paxton. I come from a generation that absolutely reviles Bill Paxton, but he sandwiched this greasy, dirtball comedy performance in between TOMBSTONE and APOLLO 13. If that’s not flexibility, I don’t know what is.

Most Thankful For – Tom Arnold staying out of the way for most of the movie. The amount that he’s in it seems to be a sort of “magical sweet spot” for Tom Arnold tolerance. He’s actually quite funny in this movie, but I wouldn’t be able to deal with any more of him. That low appraisal might just be because I was forced to watch NINE MONTHS in senior year health class and I still haven’t recovered.

What Date You Should Watch This On – Seventh. I mentioned Jamie Lee Curtis stripping, right? It’s not a first date kind of scene. Also, there’s got to be a certain amount of time you have to wait before watching an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (That isn’t JINGLE ALL THE WAY) with a girl. I’ve never even dared at the thought.

After Watching This Movie, I… – Looked at the back of my unopened copy of THE TERMINATOR,  noticed it was 2 a.m. and put it back. It’ll be for another day.

While I Was Writing This Article, I… – Spelled “Schwarzenegger” in every way imaginable, and spell check caught it every time.

Recommend Watching? – Yes. If you let yourself be swept away in the excitement, you’ll be taken to some  places you’re sure to get a kick out of.

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