Late to the fake memories! A review of Total Recall

Late to the fake memories! A review of Total Recall

[Editor’s note: Hi there. If you haven’t noticed I’ve been gone a while. See, I moved to Texas and took a job that keeps me quite busy. Then I got married. Now that I’m a crusty old woman with more time on her hands, I’m relaunching this blog that I truly love and plan to contribute to regularly. I appreciate your patience. Thank you for reading Late to the Movies!]

Douglas Quaid: If I am not me, then who the hell am I?

This one time my husband and I went bowling with my good friend Annie and her buddy Jimmy. We showed up a little late, so Annie and Jimmy entered nicknames into the scoring system ahead of time.  Jimmy’s bowling nickname was Quaid, and this excited my husband– so much so, that he launched into a barrage of really annoying and irrelevant (to me) quotes that were clearly from some classic movie I had never seen. Everyone at Ward Parkway Lanes laughed and skipped and held hands and bonded over their love for this incredible and life-changing movie and I, once again, was left to weep and ponder my existence.

The movie? Total Recall.

I’ve never been much of an action movie fan (except for Speed, the best movie in the entire world) so I’ve missed out on most Schwarzenegger movies. Except for Junior and Twins. Somewhere I got this idea in my head that Schwarzenegger was an awesome actor. I saw Terminator a year ago and he was terrible in that, but you know. He plays a robot or whatever. Robots can’t act.

Yeah, so. Neither can Arnold. But you know what? It’s fine.

Seriously though: Arnold running around, dodging bullets,  in a turban? Incredible puppet faces? Arnold sticking a weird gun up his nose to remove the bug? Arnold throwing punches while wearing a dress? Hank from Breaking Bad as a mutant? The quote, “Baby, you make me wish I had three hands?” A genius mutant baby that lives on his brother’s stomach?  I’m pretty sure Total Recall is actually a comedy, you guys.

The plot is innovative (thanks Philip K Dick) and compelling enough keep you paying attention throughout the entire movie. The special effects, well, I’m sure they were super incredible at the time but they are completely dated and ridiculous now. There’s so much claymation in this movie [OKAY, OKAY, PUPPETS]; I cannot even begin to count the number of times someone’s eye bulged out of their heads. Did you notice that right before people die on Mars, they resemble Rodney Dangerfield? Interesting. Fortunately, I believe the goofy effects and awful acting happen to make Total Recall a very entertaining movie. I may not like action movies but I do like science fiction quite a bit, and this movie has enough of the campy special effects and silly one-liners that I could actually appreciate the people who adore this movie. I’ll definitely watch it again.

What in the honest hell.

Face palm moment: There was a scene where Richter claims he can’t hear his instructions because of Sun SpotsOh, KCTV…. I hate you.

Also, “clever girl.” JURASSIC PARK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING? You stole your best line? Turrible. But also brilliant.

Favorite part: Is Sharon Stone the best bad girl ever? I adore her in Casino and she was great in this. I haven’t seen Basic Instinct but I clearly need to do so. She makes me want to be a better bad girl.

The “I missed that in pop culture trivia” moment: “Baby, you make me wish I had three hands.”

Regrettable tardiness scale (out of 10): 10. Although I have never seen Blade Runner (I. KNOW), I tend to like film adaptations of Philip K Dick stories: Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and even The Adjustment Bureau…kind of. This was no exception. Total Recall is a little goofy and a little bad, but I liked it quite a bit.

(Seriously, I know I need to see Blade Runner. I will. I promise.)


  • I think the key to you being a better bad girl is allowing yourself to be directed by Paul Verhoeven. In two of the three Sharon Stone roles, Paul Verhoeven was the director. You might also have to show your hoo-ha on camera.

    • My recollection, which could easily be clouded by the passage of time, is that she wasn’t really a bad girl in Sliver. She was a good girl who flirted with being bad but couldn’t escape her essential good nature. She had a chance to join A Baldwin in his creepy voyeuristic world and chose not to do it and also to stop him from continuing.

      Of course, she did have a lot of sex but I prefer not to think that mere sex makes her a bad girl.

  • Because you liked this so much might be tempted to watch the remake with Colin Farrell…DON’T. Something I do definitely suggest you add to the ever growing list because of how you responded to this is RoboCop. It is even more over the top and much more satirical. Verhoeven’s best.

    Fun Fact: The guy on Mars in the bar with the messed up face is Hank from Breaking Bad. The More You Know.

  • so you have a husband and a boyfriend….and they bowl together? your life is much more interesting than i originally thought

  • This is one of my favorite action films of the mid-eighties, and definitely one of my very favorite Schwarzenegger films.

    Robocop is definitely different if you watch the director’s cut vs. the version that made it to theatres. Cutting some of the graphic footage to achieve the “R” actually made it less satirical-feeling and more horrifying. It is still in my top 10 movies of all time, a sci-fi action classic.


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