Who Cares and 1970 or whatever
LCD here, and I’m really pumped about this new project I’m working on. Let me tell you about it. If you listened to Episode 6 of the ReelFriction Podcast (and you really, really should have by now), you know that I have taken it upon myself to view and talk about the people who really got me into movies in the first place: the great action heroes of the 1980s.
Like most young men, I grew up idolizing the musclebound, explosion ejaculating antics of heroes like John Matrix, Rambo, and Casey fucking Ryback. If you don’t know who those people are, educate yourself on Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Seagal and stop reading my post, TC! In this feature, I will explore the works of the great action stars chronologically by actor and post about what I watched during the week every Monday.
The first star I’m covering is the grandaddy of them all: the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger!
Film: Hercules in New York
Character: Hercules (duh)
Favorite Line: “A fine chariot, but where are the horses?” and “I am Hercules”
Number of Beers I Drank While Watching This: 4
Number of Beers Needed to Enjoy This: Many more than 4
IMDB describes Hercules in New York as an Adventure, Fantasy, Family film. Two of the taglines for this film are: “Boys! Girls! It’s Big Fun!!” and “It’s tremendous!! It’s Stupendous!! It’s Fun!!”.
None of these things are true.
I was on the fence about even including this movie in this movie. One one hand, none of the tags in this movie included action. On the other hand, it’s Arnold’s first ever movie and the rest of my ReelFriction compatriots voted and told me I had to, so it’s fair to say that I got Cinema Sodomized twice by those a-holes this week.
The movie opens with Hercules and Zeus embroiled in what appears to be a long running argument atop Mt. Olympus, which is clearly a garden park inside of Central Park. Hercules wants to go down to Earth. Zeus is concerned that Hercules will get into too much trouble. Eventually Zeus, enraged by Hercules insolence and murder of the English language, hurls one of his
spray painted pieces of rebar lightning bolts at him and punishes him by sending him off to New York. If this sounds like Hercules’ “punishment” is him actually getting exactly what he wanted, congratulations! You’re already smarter than Zeus.
So Hercules flies alongside a plane for a bit flirting with some ladies before landing in the ocean and being saved by a passing ship about 100 miles from New York.
Since he is still in international waters, the nice crew of the ship give him a formfitting sweater and assume ownership of his body using the maritime Finders Keepers rules. Miffed that he won’t submit to the indentured servitude required of all rescued drowning victims, the crew tries to forcibly detain Hercules.
Big mistake, idiots. He makes relatively quick work of the crew (for the second time in this movie already) before entering the great big world of New York City with his new friend and Woody Allen impersonator Pretzie.
Soon, Yi will regret watching this movie
From there, the two school what is presumably the United States Olympic track team in all manner of Olympic events, go on awkward dates, fight bears, become famous wrestlers, and get involved in mob gambling rings. Well, Hercules does these things. Pretzie just kind of rides his coattails around New York. Eventually, Hercules gets bored and leaves to live inside Pretzie’s radio and Pretzie presumably goes back to his terrible life of selling pretzels to dismissive sailors on the docks and hitting on his adopted daughter.
It might sound like this is a terrible movie, and it is, but inside this movie is a much better movie waiting explode out of it. This could have been a really funny “fish out of water” tale like Elf, but with the Greek pantheon instead of elves and Ed Asner. Imagine a movie where when Hercules says or does something incredibly stupid and his explanation is “I am Hercules” is met with some kind of lesson about how the world works. The character grows, and we grow with him.
Instead, what we get a movie that is so lazily written that neither screenwriter Aubrey Wisberg nor director Arthur Allan Seidelman bothers to research which gods are Greek, which are Roman, and which are characters from the Bible despite there being a goddamned book of mythology right there on set as a prominent prop that is referenced and read by characters several times. That’s right, not only is Zeus (Greek) married to Juno (Roman), but he sends Mercury (Roman) and Nemesis (Greek) to Earth at various points before sentencing Hercules to 100 years in Pluto’s (Roman) care. He also sends Atlas (Greek) and Samson (THE FUCKING BIBLE) to Earth to help Hercules. I’m pretty sure this is supposed to be a family comedy, but I’m confident that given the choice between watching this movie and braving the Sierra Nevadas, the Donner Party would gladly choose to brave those mountain passes again, maybe bringing along some extra BBQ sauce this time.
And let’s talk about Arnold Schwarzenegger for a bit. After all, this feature is supposed to be about action stars and their films. Arnie is fresh off the boat here and his dialogue sounds like a man being waterboarded while trying to gargle marbles. He lacks any sort of charisma. Any scene with romantic pretext seems more rapey than Jodie Foster face down on a pinball machine. He stumbles around New York being kind of a douchebag and any mistakes he makes are covered by his signature “I am Hercules” line and a response that amounts to “hahahaha stupid Greek foreigner”. Instead of a charming, naive character, we’re given bizarro world, ultra aggressive Forrest Gump on steroids. It’s really not fair to criticize his acting here since he was obviously in way over his head and was probably cast strictly because he’s a gigantic slab of muscle who really fills out a mock turtleneck.
I’m panning this movie, and I’m pretty merciless, but there were some moments of joy in it for me. It is so, so ludicrously terrible that it either becomes great at some point, or I was delirious from the insanity of everything that happens in this movie. I would recommend watching it with at least 5 beers, or possibly while playing Edward 40 Hands.
Next time, I’ll tackle Conan the Barbarian and, hopefully, Conan the Destroyer. For now, I’ll leave you with the greatest bear fight in the history of cinema.
Suck it, DiCaprio