The Expendables 2 panel at San Diego Comic-Con featured a snippet of new footage from the anticipated, a clip of Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger storming an airport and blasting away handfuls of goons led by the slimy Jean-Claude Van Damme. The footage was absolutely ridiculous in the best of ways (even sporting a random cutaway to Chuck Norris accompanied by the Ennio Morricone whistle), but walking away from the action movie, there was only one thought on my mind: we need another Schwrazenegger comedy.
Expendables 2 marks a return for the actor, after an eight year run as the Governor of California, to the shoot-em-up blockbusters that made him king of the action movie back in the '80s and '90s. Getting back into the game must have been a positive response for him — at the panel he was overjoyed to recall his machismo stardom for the adoring crowd and the actor has even signed on to several more action films to follow Expendables 2. But panel attendees weren't keeling over in fits of glee thanks to the footage or trailer that opened the show. They were laughing their butts off at Schwarzenegger, who resurfaced memories of a different kind,with one-liners, funny anecdotes and career lampooning (the man quoted every movie line you'd ever hope to hear him utter in person — incredible). Schwarzenegger has timing, and as the star begins to age, there's one smart move for the actor that would benefit both the legend and his fans. Are you listening, Judd Apatow?
Schwarzenegger needs a comedy vehicle. Perhaps Twins, Junior, and Jingle All the Way aren't the best indication of the bodybuilding thespian's potential for laughs, but they're a clear demonstration of a man with timing and physical comedy prowess that could be put to good use in the right hands. Don't believe me? A few choice quotes from The Expendables 2 panel...
On returning to action in Expendables 2: "I was really appreciative that the guys would say, 'We know you've been out of the business for eight years, so here's how you load a gun...'"
On costar Terry Crews' evolution: "It's amazing to see you gain the 20 - 25 pounds of muscle in the last few years...and your acting is incredible."
On first meeting Sylvester Stallone at the Golden Globes: "Your mother came over to me [at the Golden Globes] and told me, 'you look like a piano mover.'"
On his accent: "When I came to America 44 years ago, Sly was my English teacher. Blame him!"
There's been speculation on whether Schwarzenegger, now 65, can still be the action hero he was back in his prime days. I say: why push him? The footage we've seen in Expendables 2 isn't anything mind-blowing from a stunt perspective. Instead, it's all about the sheer joy of watching Schwarzenegger rub shoulders with the other ass-kicking elders, calling out Willis' overuse of "Yip-ee-ay-yay" from Die Hard or just showing off in front of Stallone. Expecting Schwarzenegger to be up to par with his younger self can only result in disappointment. If the actor actually pursued some of the high concept comedies he dabbled in between action pictures back in the '90s, he may still have a long career ahead of him.
During the panel Q&A, an audience member asked about the status of the proposed Twins sequel. Instead of brushing it on, Schwarzenegger gave him an honest answer. It's happening, with director Ivan Reitman interested in pursuing the Triplets concept and the whole package awaiting the right screenwriter to tackle the material. Schwarzenegger is eager to do it — and why wouldn't he be when he can bring down a house of thousands with off-the-cuff remarks and unfiltered silliness. Much of the Expendables 2 discussion revolved around the differences between old school action stars and the muscle-less leading men of today. I have a different type of nostalgia: watching an undercover cop teach a class of Kindergartners while attempting to solve a mystery. Wacky, stupid and wonderfully delightful. Just like Expendables, no? The man understands camp, an art that's fading away as the comedy genre drifts into homogeneity
Schwarzenegger is a movie star. Was then, always will be. But the last thing I want to see is a hero go down in flames, and that's my biggest worry about the future of Arnie action movies. Instead, Hollywood should mine what he's obviously packing in his older age: wit. Believe it. Schwarzenegger crushes his enemies with zingers now.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Lionsgate]