Some of us saw it coming that a new film genre of older action stars would become a moderately popular attraction at the movies in 2013. What's still unknown is whether audiences will accept Arnold Schwarzenegger as a renewed action star when no film can hide the fact he'll be using a stunt double more than half the time. However, he can still utter a funny line with aplomb. That's especially helpful when his syntax is as broken as when he became an American citizen decades ago.
Let's all admit that when impersonators lampoon Schwarzenegger's Austrian accent, it still garners laughs after all these years. Even if that's equivalent to regurgitating jokes from the 1980s, the cinematic Schwarzenegger of today is much more polished in his delivery of lines. Although we're still not entirely sure if some of those lines are meant to be serious or with his former Austrian tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Most likely, the latter is true if he really wants his film career to be taken at an acceptable level. The former Governator may have once had a decade-long thought he was being taken seriously as a true thespian. Now he has to look at every one of his films as unintentional comedy and as a genre that's more bankable than ever. You can also say that about his films that were intended to be funny.
Just how successful has Schwarzenegger been as a comedian in his movies? We may have to refresh our memories that he was once quite uproarious in a few films, which needs a renewal before he's labeled a washed up action star who utters flat comedic lines. It's possible he's setting up such a plan as a safety net that can potentially take him into his 70s and 80s as a comedic character actor.
Recent reports suggest The Schwarz still wants to do a sequel to 1988's "Twins." You can mark that first film as the original turning point for him in playing a character that garnered true laughs without wincing. I'll even wager to say that he was as equally funny as Danny DeVito in that film, if perhaps because of the zeitgeist of the times.
His true comedic showcase for himself, though, has long been "Kindergarten Cop." Schwarzenegger managed to take a comedic line of "It's not a tumah!" and make it all the funnier if not one of the most quoted lines of the era. The successful secret to his reactionary comedy was a simple one: A giant fish out of water scenario.
It's too bad he didn't see that clearly as a new film path rather than later going back to more action scenarios we'd expect. Nothing is funnier than seeing a literal giant trying to fit in with people he ordinarily wouldn't be caught dead hanging around (think Andre the Giant in "The Princess Bride"). Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger's current "The Last Stand" doesn't quite fit that bill, despite the small border town setting.
Arnold needs to go back to smaller settings in his future films, either in rom-coms or other scenarios where he looks embarrassingly out of place. If he thinks that's mocking, he should turn that off at his age as a career-defining path toward a long and successful comedic film career.
That also helps if a truly witty screenwriter writes something with the faith Schwarzenegger can roll the lines under his thick tongue like Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau did with Austrian Billy Wilder.