Schwarzenegger Revelation Temporarily Spares Us From More Bad Movies

He knocked up the maid and now the whole world knows about it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably wishing right now that he possessed a lot more self-control than he did back in the late 1990s.  The already overcovered story has repeatedly detailed a pretty embarrassing secret. 

While his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, was pregnant with their youngest son (now in his early teens), their married housekeeper, Mildred Patty Baena, was also carrying his offspring.  Both kids were born within a week of each other.  (The invaluable TMZ has more on Baena here.)

During the 2003 California recall election, Schwarzenegger’s bad reputation with women became a minor campaign issue.  (The Austrian action star swatted it all away at the time as “old news” and was elected Governor anyway.)  But somehow, his infidelity and subsequent paternity remained concealed.

No longer.  According to the equally invaluable RadarOnline, Maria’s suspicions about her longtime employee led to a confession from her husband.  A week before the story broke, Shriver and Schwarzenegger announced their separation.  Despite consulting a divorce attorney, the former First Lady of California and longtime reporter hasn’t taken the next logical step.  I would be personally surprised if she didn’t.

In the grand scheme of things, does any of this really matter to the rest of us?  No.  It’s just a salicious story for cable news to drone on and on about while comedians hungry for fresh material now have plenty to goof on for quite some time.

What does matter is that Schwarzenegger, who announced his return to show business just three months ago, is pulling a Tiger Woods.  (And yes, there are other mistresses.)  Instead of moving forward with new projects (including a cartoon series called The Governator), he’s taking a break.  (We all know how well that turned out for the golfer.)

To which I say, good.  Let’s face facts here.  In July, the Austrian actor turns 64.  The last good movie he was in was Eraser, released all the way back in the summer of 1996.  With the exception of last year’s The Expendables (in which he makes a cameo appearance) and Jingle All The Way (which broke even), every film he’s appeared in since then has also been a domestic commercial flop (internationally, he remains a top draw), which limits his options in his adopted homeland. 

Like Sylvester Stallone, Schwarzenegger is long past his prime as a reliable hitmaker.  Even if he were to do follow-ups to some of his old hits, the likelihood of them being as entertaining and successful here as the originals are pretty slim.  (Maybe a move overseas is in order.)

At some point, you have to look yourself in the mirror and realize that the party’s over.  You have to accept the reality that the audience has moved on and attempting to relive those glory days as an old man are just plain sad.

In the 1980s and early 90s, Schwarzenegger made several solid action pictures.  Commando, The Running Man, Predator, Total Recall, the first two Terminators, the flawed but skillful True Lies and the aforementioned Eraser.  His quick wit in those early hits led to fine comedic work in Kindergarten Cop, Junior and the underrated action/comedy hybrid, the unfairly maligned Last Action Hero.

But beginning with Jingle All The Way in late 1996, he lost the golden touch.  That awful Christmas comedy led to an uninspiring turn as Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin.  The decade ended with the silly thriller, End Of Days.  Then came the inferior Total Recall retread, The 6th Day, and the lacklustre Collateral Damage.  By the time he returned as the good cyborg in T3, it was obvious his formerly sharp instincts for selecting good escapist material had become extremely rusty. 

And on top of all of this, now he has an image problem (although I imagine more reasonable film fans, like myself, could care less about his indescretions when it comes down to the simple acts of watching him kick ass and quip on screen).  True, Mel Gibson is in worse shape because of his poor judgment but he can always turn to producing and directing.  Schwarzenegger hasn’t done the former in 10 years and the latter in nearly 20.

So while his wife and kids fume at his betrayal, the rest of us can breathe a sigh of relief.  For the time being, Schwarzenegger won’t be returning to a theatre any time soon.  And he won’t be adding any more forgettable junk to his already horrendous slump.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, May 20, 2011
1:46 a.m.

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Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 1:46 am  Leave a Comment  

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