“That’s what I do every time my life turns to dog shit. I concentrate on work, and that gets me by. All right, buddy? This is gonna be great. You know what? We’re gonna catch some terrorists, we’re gonna beat the crap out of them, you’re gonna feel a hell of a lot better.”
He’s a secret agent, but his wife think’s he’s a mild-mannered and boring salesman. When she decides to step out on him with another guy – who she thinks is a secret agent – and he finds out, hilarity ensues! And terrorists try to drop a nuke. But mostly the hilarity.
TRUE LIES (1994)
Directed by James Cameron
Screenplay by Claude Zidi, Simon Michaël and Didier Kaminka (for “La Totale!”) and James Cameron
This is probably my favorite Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (followed closely, of course, by KINDERGARTEN COP – I will never get tired of yelling “It’s not a tumah!” when I have a headache), and it’s because of how ridiculous the premise for this film is. First of all, that anyone would believe that Schwarzenegger’s Harry Tasker would be just a boring old salesman is funny. On top of that, the idea that Tom Arnold, who plays Arnold’s partner, would be a super-secret agent is just hysterical.
Despite being an action movie, the film is peppered with a lot of humor. Schwarzenegger’s comedic timing always feels just slightly off, but somehow I think that makes everything he does just a little bit funnier. The Terminator is cracking wise and making funny faces. It’s really great. And he seems to be having fun with it, as the movie opens with Tasker switching between highly-effective and deadly secret agent to boring salesman husband tricking his wife, Helen, into believe everything is normal.
Of course, when she decides she wants something more out of life, Harry decides to test her devotion to him. After staking out the used car salesman who had her believing he was a secret agent, played so perfectly by Bill Paxton, Harry and Gib (Tom Arnold) play a bit of a cat and mouse game with Helen that transforms her from a dowdy housewife into a sex symbol. The scene where Harry has his wife strip down in a hotel room and dance for him (while she has no idea its her husband) has probably become one of Jamie Lee Curtis’ most iconic movie scenes. Her attempts to be sexy while fighting off a bit of awkwardness is perfect for the mix of action and comedy the movie tries to balance.
The hotel scene leads to the Taskers getting kidnapped by terrorists who want to drop a nuke in the country, leading to an extended action scene that sees Harry use a jet fighter to rescue his daughter (Eliza Dushku) from the head terrorist, do some damage to skyscrapers and blow a helicopter out of the sky with a missile, which had the terrorist hanging from it. Just a typical day in a 1990s action flick, right?
TRUE LIES is just as much an iconic Schwarzenegger film as the Terminator movies or Predator, and James Cameron’s touch here really helps to make it a fun 2 hours.