When Can I Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies with My Kids?

When Can I Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger Movies with My Kids?

Jan 15, 2013

Have you heard about The Last Stand? If your television’s been on at any point in the past two weeks, the answer’s probably yes. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been everywhere promoting his full-blown return to the action genre after dipping his toe into back-to-back Expendables movies for his old pal Sly Stallone. 
 
My sons caught California’s former governor on the NFL pregame this past weekend, where he and comedian Rob Riggle made their picks for the ongoing playoff matches. (I am not exaggerating: Schwarzenegger has had a relentless promotional schedule on behalf of this film. If it opens small, it isn’t because Arnold dogged the marketing campaign.) 
 
 
The boys were intrigued by this hulking mass of a man. P.J. chuckled at Arnold’s enthusiasm, as well as his attempts at humor – both of which predictably were trampled by the actor’s still-thick accent. “And how ‘bout Maddy Ice? D’you evah think about that?!” 
 
That’s when it hit me: These kids have no idea who Arnold Schwarzenegger is.  
 
Why would they? Predator, Commando and The Running Man aren’t exactly the next step up from Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks Animation. We’ve covered a lot of ground in the When Can I Watch column, thinking outside of the box every chance we get. Not once did it cross my mind to drift into Schwarzenegger territory. 
 
This year, however, I’d like to introduce my boys to Austria’s most entertaining export. And because I try to makes this an interactive column, I turned the discussion over to you. I asked my fellow parents if they’ve ever tried Schwarzenegger movies with their kids. We talked about which movies they started with, and which films were appropriate. 
 
At the end of the column, I have a bit of a surprise. Recently, I sat across from Schwarzenegger on behalf of The Last Stand and had the opportunity to ask him point blank which movie he’d start with if he were introducing my sons to his body of work. I told you he’s had to talk to everybody on this campaign. His answer can be found below!
 
The best answer I received from a reader was a Schwarzenegger title I’d completely forgotten, and yet, it makes total sense. 
 
“I let my eight year old watch Batman and Robin,” tweeted Kyle H (@marvelzombie616). “Don’t think there are any others that she is ready for yet.”   
 
Of course! Adults may roll their eyes at the thick layer of cheese Joel Schumacher ladled over the Batman series back in 1997, but kids aren’t cynical enough to notice. Batman and Robin was a franchise killer, thanks in large part to Schwarzenegger’s scenery chomping. But the film also could kill two birds with one stone, entertaining kids with a Batman movie that’s lighter than Christopher Nolan’s think pieces while also introducing our children to Schwarzenegger’s larger-than-life screen presence.  
 
 
Donna (@belladonna115), a reader from Louisiana, suggested the first movie that came to mind when I started thinking about this column: Ivan Reitman’s 1990 Kindergarten Cop, the duo’s second comedic outing (after Twins) and the first movie to show Arnold’s efficiency at multiple genres. 
 
Schwarzenegger never carried a complete comedy. His efforts always mixed action and thrills, often pairing the muscle-bound star with another, more comfortable screen comedian (from Tom Arnold in True Lies to Jim Belushi in Red Heat). 
 
“It’s just a cute, funny movie,” Donna writes. “Not quite like his Terminator movies.” 
 
True. And hey, my boys have to learn that “girls have a vagina” someday. Why not now?
 
After wading through the stream of joke answers -- unless you sick pups really think I should “let off some steam” by showing my boys Commando – I found a tweet from Elizabeth King (@ElizabethKing), who says she showed her 12-year-old son True Lies, followed by Terminator
 
“Probably too young,” she admits. “He is now reading (Schwarzenegger’s) autobiography. #badparents.” 
 
Not at all. Your kid’s reading! Silver linings, Elizabeth. 
 
I’m leaning toward Last Action Hero, John McTiernan’s too-clever send-up of the action genre that made Schwarzenegger a global superpower, though I’d need to revisit it because of the language and the possible excess of violence. I know my kids would devour Jack Slater, and his larger-than-life ego. Young Danny (Austin O’Brien) would be a great portal into the world for the boys, though I remember Tom Noonan’s “Ripper” being a pretty menacing villain.   
 
What does Arnold think? 
 
 
I told him during our recent interview that I have sons who’ve never seen an Arnold movie before, and I wanted them to start catching up with his filmography. I asked him where he thinks I should start. He said: 
 
“If they are that age, I would start with Twins and with Kindergarten Cop, and then slowly move them up to Last Action Hero, The Terminator and Predator. Even Commando,” Schwarzenegger told me. “I think probably the Conan movie is the one where I would wait a little bit. [Laughs] Because, you know, it’s a sword-and-sorcery movie. So when you deal with swords, heads come off and arms come off. Body parts drop as you hack away at the enemy. That’s a little rough to handle. It was an R-rated movie, but it became a classic and people really enjoy it… especially my line, ‘To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!’ That became a classic.”
 
The Last Stand is in theaters on Friday, January 18. It’s not for kids. It’s geared to those of us who grew up on Arnold, and still pine for his unapologetic machismo. But we’ll start with Schwarzenegger at some point this year. How about you?    
 
If you’d like to read previous entries in the "When Can I Watch That with My Kids?" series, click right here. Some of the films covered: Star Wars, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Hugo, The Princess Bride, The Monster Squad and Elf, to name just a few.
 

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