The Running Man

1987 movie in which Arnold Schwarzenegger says "I'll be back"

Rating: 12/20

Plot: Ben's a cop framed for the slaughter of starving women and children in a future dystopian society. He and some revolutionaries bust out of prison, but Ben is later apprehended and forced to be a contestant on futuristic version of Family Feud, one that involves far less surveys but far more goons trying to kill off the players with saws. Soon after the host says, "Let's play the Feeeuuuuuuud!" Ben realizes that in order to survive, he's got to stop running and fight back.

Naturally, when I first saw former Family Feud host Richard Dawson, I called 911 and angrily screamed, "Where the hell is Wink Martindale? Where is Wink Martindale?!" until I realized that I was talking into a colorful plastic Shirt Tales telephone instead of a real telephone and had dialed Rick Raccoon, Rick Raccoon, Mr. Dinkle instead of 911. The police would not be able to assist me. I sat, distraught and damp, and watched The Running Man anyway. Turns out that Richard Dawson is the best thing about the movie. He plays slimy extremely well here, and is a terrific villain. But when the best thing about your movie is a game show host, your movie probably isn't very good. To be fair, the makers of The Running Man scrape against some pretty good ideas. I liked the theme song ("We bring you joy. We bring you strife."), the mention of an "entertainment division" of the Justice Department, another game show alluded to called Climbing for Dollars, court-appointed theatrical agents, an old cursing woman, and another chance to see Jesse Ventura and Arnold in the same movie. Unfortunately, where this could have taken advantage of the opportunity to have a satirical edge, it instead spirals into a mindless and unpleasant action movie. Ventura's character probably said it best--"This is garbage." I did like some of the stalkers (not the opera singer with Christmas lights on him) though, even when their names or gimmicks are just an excuse for Arnold to throw out some pun-laden one-liners. This movie also loses points for The Running Man's 80s dance party intro which seemed endless and bad font for the title credits. That's right. I'm criticizing a movie for its font.

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