Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Remember when terrorism was funny?

True Lies
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Eliza Dushku
Released: July 15, 1994

Oscar nominations:
Best Visual Effects (lost to Forrest Gump)

True Lies is the James Cameron movie sandwiched between arguably two of his most well-known movies, Terminator 2 (1991) and Titanic (1997). True Lies leans more towards T2 than Titanic, though. They both star Arnold and are action flicks, though True Lies is an action-comedy while T2 is a little more serious.

While a fun action movie, True Lies is a bit of a hot mess. It doesn't have a coherent storyline. It's like there's three different stories in one movie. A lot of stuff that happens in this movie is really dumb. This movie was made for and intended for the male population, but you can still get a kick out of it if you are not of that camp. You just may roll your eyes more often!

Harry Tasker (Schwarzenegger) works as an undercover agent for the government in the anti-terrorism department called the Omega Sector. Because this is so top secret, his wife, Helen (Jamie Lee Curtis) and 13 year old daughter, Dana (Eliza "You gotta have Faith" Dushku) don't know about his real job and thinks he is a computer salesman who goes on a lot of business trips.

"Dad, this snow globe is totally not five by five!" 
There's a running joke throughout the first part of the movie that Helen thinks her husband's job is boring and she tells one of her co-workers whenever she needs to fall asleep, she'll ask her husband about his day and that will do the trick. Dana, the rebellious daughter, thinks her dad is really lame. Oh, if only they knew of what he really did and the exciting life he led when he was away.

Before and after:
Tom Arnold Schwarzenegger
Harry's partner is Albert (Tom Arnold) who accompanies him on all his missions. He's the brains behind the operations working with the computers and sound equipment. Harry is the guy who beats everyone up. Makes sense to me! In the first part of the movie they are after a terrorist. There's a big shootout in a public restroom, then Harry is on a horse chasing the guy on a motorcycle. They go through the hotel and into the kitchen, then the guy gets on one glass elevator (still on the motorcycle) and Harry gets on another glass elevator (still on the horse). You think this whole scenario is ridiculous? Just wait, it gets even more ridiculous! The terrorist, now on the roof, sees another hotel across the street and drives the motorcycle across the room, flies across the sky and lands in the pool. Uh-huh. Then Harry tries to do the same with the horse, but being a smart animal, the horse stops short of jumping off the roof and flings Harry off the side of the building, still holding onto the reins.

The terrorist guy is pretty much all forgotten about as we go into the second part of the movie. While going to his wife's work to see if she wants to have lunch with him, Harry stops short when her co-worker tells Helen she has a call from her "mystery guy". Harry eavesdrops and can only conclude that she's cheating on him. He tells this to Albert who in turn tells him, "Welcome to the club." He and Albert put a bug in Helen's purse, then spy on her the next day when she's suppose to meet her mystery man. He is Simon (Bill Paxton), a used cars salesman who is pretending to be a spy so he can hook up with lonely housewives. He invites Helen over to his trailer and tells her he has to fly to Paris on a mission and wants her to pretend to be his wife. By this time, Harry and a whole task force are surrounding the place and blow the roof off the trailer. It's a little ridiculous he has all this hoopla to rescue his wife from a smarmy cars salesman. After Harry and Albert give Simon a good scare, we never see him again. I know Bill Paxton is a Jimmy C favorite, but I don't think he was really necessary in this movie. Yes, we do get some funny moments (like when Harry imagines punching him in the face) and it does help set up the next (kinda pointless but still needed) scene, but it just seemed to be totally thrown in randomly.

Then we get to part two of the second section which is still focused on Helen. She is brought to an interrogation room where her husband and Albert are on the other side of the mirror and their voices are disguised. They ask her questions about her relationship with Simon and whether or not she slept with him and what her relationship with her husband is like. She understandably becomes angry and asks what that has to do with anything. They tell her to avoid going to jail, she must work for them and complete an assignment when she's called. Of course, this is all a ploy, but it spirals out of control as we'll get to in a minute.

We next get the sexy dancing scene which is in the movie to have an attractive woman dancing in lingerie. I don't know. It's a guy movie so you gotta have something like that in there. Helen gets her "assignment" where she's suppose to go to a hotel and pretend to be a hooker for a guy who just "likes to watch". After she bugs the phone in his room, they will be set. Now they have made up Jamie Lee Curtis as very conservative, wearing frumpy clothes, pearls, and glasses and has a "Mom" haircut. Her idea of a dress a prostitute would wear is that awful black taffeta number you would find a bridesmaid wearing, but she gets some sense and cuts off the sleeves and ruffles until it's a little black dress, shows some cleavage, wets her hair, puts on some lipstick and she is instantly changed. Who knew Harry was married to such a hot woman? He sure didn't when she stars sexy dancing for him. Yes, Harry is the guy she's dancing for (he's sitting in the shadows), so it's not so creepy that at least it's her husband watching her, although she doesn't know that, so it's still it a tad weird. She's wearing black lingerie when she's dancing and I'm sorry, but no woman who dresses like June Cleaver would own underwear like that! She lays on the bed and Harry tells her to close her eyes. She does and he kisses her and she, thinking it's some perverted guy, grabs the telephone and smacks him in the head with it. You would think she would be able to tell her husband's kiss (but I guess it's been awhile since they've been intimate!) This is the moment when she finds out her husband is a spy and as it so happens, at that exact moment the terrorist guy, along with Juno Skinner (Tia Carrere), the villain of the movie, capture them.

In the next part of the movie (which is part 3 of section 2 - the longest section of the movie) we get these gems:
-Harry, who is tied up and been given truth serum tells a guard that he is going to kill him by stabbing him in the throat, then taking his gun and shoot the other guards, and I don't know, it's this elaborate plan he has, but he's telling the truth because he does exactly what he says he's going to do.
- Helen sees a bad guy about to aim a gun at Harry who is preoccupied with other bad guys, so she takes a gun and starts shooting it, but she ends up dropping it and it falls down the stairs and every time it hits the ground and it pointed at the bad guy, it shoots and hits them, but she is miraculously never hit!
-Juno escapes and kidnaps Helen and they are driving across a long bridge over the water. Harry gets  the National Guard - or something like that - and they blow up a section of the bridge to stop the bad guys. Really? We're going to blow up the bridge? The guy driving the car Helen and Juno are in is shot, but his feet are still on the gas, so the two women have a catfight in the car and Harry, who is on a helicopter, has to rescue Helen before the car dives off of the bridge. Luckily, he does.
-There's a funny scene where the terrorist is making a video and the guy recording him sees that the battery is low, but the terrorist doesn't want to be interrupted and has to do his speech again when he is told the battery died.

So now we get to the third - and final - segment of the movie. I don't know about you, but I'm already exhausted and feel like this movie has a satisfying ending with Harry saving his wife's life, but nope! Now he's gotta save his daughter's life! Remember Dana, who we saw a few times in the first part of the movie, but had no screen time in the entire middle section? Well, the terrorists have found her and have kidnapped her. So Harry takes a jet (which of course he knows how to fly) and flies to the hotel she's at. Dana has escaped with the key that is meant to detonate the bomb (did I mention there's a bomb in all this?) and goes to the roof (why do people go to the roof when they're trying to ESCAPE?) and crosses some scaffolding. She's just like that little girl from Adventures in Baby-Sitting who escapes the bad guy by going out the top floor of a Chicago skyscraper. Smart, girls, smart. Meanwhile, Harry is in his jet and destroying everything in his wake....he is going to have one large bill to pay! He sees Dana on the scaffolding and tells her to "jump on the plane". Right. She does and the bad guy also does the same and and he and Harry get into a fight. The bad guy somehow gets strapped onto a missile and Harry says, "You're fired" before releasing the missile where it then flies right into the path of a helicopter that more bad guys are flying and they all burn in a fiery ball. It is so absurd. Harry manages to get himself and Dana down safety and the Tasker family lives happily ever after and Helen even becomes a spy.

There was suppose to be a sequel in 2002, but then 9/11 happened and Cameron scraped the project saying that terrorism just wasn't funny anymore and it's like, Huh? When was terrorism ever funny? But I do kind of get what he's saying. Obviously that was a sensitive time in our history and making an action-comedy about terrorism wouldn't be the best idea. But sometimes the best medicine is laughter in times like those, so who knows, maybe the public would have welcomed it. Or...maybe not.

No comments:

Post a Comment