After focusing on baby movies throughout August, I was at a loss as to what type of movie to induct into the vault next. When I find myself in this situation, I turned to my two most trustworthy sources of inspiration; upcoming releases and celebrity birthdays. I can hardly wait for Rian Johnson’s upcoming Looper and today is Damon Wayans birthday which led me to choose The Last Boy Scout. More importantly, the selection reminded of our recent loss of Tony Scott, so every Tuesday post in September will recognize a celebrity we’ve lost in 2012.
“Nobody likes you. Everybody hates you. You’re gonna lose. Smile, you fuck.” That’s the motto private dick Joe Hallenbeck (Bruce Willis) has adopted to motivate himself. His wife Sarah (Chelsea Field), daughter Darian (Danielle Harris) and everyone he meets hate him nearly as much as he hates himself, but life wasn’t always this bad. Joe was a decorated Secret Service agent before his morality got him fired by Senator Baynard (Chelcie Ross). In need of money, Joe agrees to bodyguard a stripper Cory (Halle Berry) for his friend Mike (Bruce McGill). When this simple task goes sideways, Joe and Cory’s boyfriend, former quarterback Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans), become unlikely partners in order to uncover the trouble Cory was into.
I’m not aware of any list that ranks 90s films inundated with classic That Guys, but it’s safe to say The Last Boy Scout would top that list. Aside from the already mentioned Bruce McGill and Chelcie Ross, Boy Scout features the late Noble Willingham as Sheldon Marcone, the unscrupulous owner of the L.A. Stallions football team. In Marcone’s employ, audiences can find comedian-turned-actor Taylor Negron portraying the vicious head thug Milo. Frank Collison and Kim Coates appear in a handful of scenes, the coolest of them being the reason Boy Scout landed onto Kai’s Top 5 Movies: Tony Scott (In Memorium) (seriously, the film’s worth watching solely for this moment). I’m not sure if she qualifies as a That Gal, but around the time of its release, Chelsea Field was appearing in movies and TV everywhere, earning her the status, at least in my mind. And though not a That Guy, fitness fiends might appreciate Billy Blanks’ appearance in the opening.
Penned by the go-to action screenwriter of the 90s, Shane Black, The Last Boy Scout isn’t so much about the familiar faces as it is the sharp dialogue and unforgettable action moments. Willis who, according to sources, was in need of a hit at the time, rules the roost in Boy Scout. He’s a brooding mess, but still not a man to be trifled with. He, literally, laughs in the face of death, going so far as to crack up his executioners with his nonchalant demeanor. Damon Wayans, a born comedian, also gets in his fair share of wisecracks , although his initial partnering with Willis feelschoppy and uneven. These two eventually find their groove, but even together they wouldn’t stand a chance against Marcone and his crew were it not for a little help from Joe’s foul-mouthed, trash-talking daughter. Danielle Harris plays Darian as an offensive little cuss, but if you’ve ever had the chance to meet her, you know Danielle is an absolute sweetheart.
Many of those memorable lines and moments these three share seem tenuously connected to the story, but the late Tony Scott creates a slick atmosphere wherein the vulgarity and violence works. Drug addiction, gambling, bribery, family dysfunction, and being framed for murder; the plot has a ton of moving parts, but by the end it all makes sense and what doesn’t, doesn’t matter because The Last Boy Scout delivers what’s important… 90s thrills.