Arnold Schwarzenegger is a very funny man. Sure, during his 46-year film career, the majority of the 68-year-old Austrian-American actor’s most iconic roles have involved various wide shots of his characters flexing their muscles — most often with the soon-to-be crushed heads of the bad guys trapped between each bicep. Yet whether Schwarzenegger was trying to be funny in comedies like Twins and Kindergarten Cop, or turning action set pieces into comedic opportunities in Last Action Hero, the ex-Governator is quite the cut-up.
To celebrate Arnold’s massive, well-developed, 68-year-old funny bones, we’ve put together 10 of his best comedic moments from his substantial filmography.
From 1984 to 1988, Schwarzenegger put out an action movie a year. Sometimes two. His physicality was his strongest asset when it came to action films, but the actor wanted to break the mold and try comedy. So he joined Danny DeVito in Ivan Reitman’s Twins. It’s not Arnold’s best comedy, but it’s his first, and as our own Mike Ryan points out, the effort he put into making it work is endearing enough to make us want to laugh. Like in the overnight scene when the pair has to buy Schwarzenegger’s character Julius a new shirt.
1990’s Kindergarten Cop fits snugly within the action-comedy category. Most remember the movie for its catchy one-liners and the manner in which Arnold delivers them, but the “if you don’t stop screwing around…” scene on the airplane is one Schwarzenegger’s finest moments. Yes, there’s a punchline, and yes, it involves Schwarzenegger’s physicality, but the comedic tension that builds between him and the sh*t kids sitting behind him is priceless.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
After the success of Kindergarten Cop, filmmakers realized they could implement more humor into Schwarzenegger’s otherwise action-oriented roles. So when the actor re-teamed with director James Cameron for the Terminator sequel, the director made sure to do just that. And sure enough, compared to the first film’s all-serious killing machine, T2‘s terminator is decidedly funnier. Sure there’s the occasional one-liner, but where Schwarzenegger excels is with the character’s physical comedy, like when he tries to smile.
Last Action Hero
Yes, Last Action Hero is an action film, and it’s an action-comedy, but it’s ridiculously self-aware. Not just in its effort to mix genres and include the ludicrous tropes that both entail, but it’s also aware of Schwarzenegger’s own career as an action star. It’s a movie tailor-made for the actor, and he shines in both its thrilling and funny moments. Perhaps the most poignant, unknowingly self-deprecating scene is when Arnold’s character, Jack Slater, argues with the ticket-holding Danny about whether the “bad guys” are in the big mansion.
The very idea of a man having a baby was enough of a comedic premise to drive 1994’s Junior. What made it better, of course, was the casting of Schwarzenegger as that man. Yes, Arnold’s going to have a baby! Many of the film’s subplots muddle up what otherwise is a decent film, but it’s all saved by the montage from the expectant mother’s retreat that Schwarzenegger’s pregnant character, Dr. Alex Hesse, hides in. If you’ve never seen it, all you need to know is it involves Arnold disguised as a woman, participating in group sing-song chants, hugging circles, and what appears to be pregnant yoga.
Jingle All the Way
While the film is primarily based on the competition between Schwarzenegger and Sinbad, some of Jingle All the Way‘s best moments come from the former’s occasional exchanges with Phil Hartman. Hartman plays the next-door neighbor, divorcee and “best dad in the world” Ted, and he takes great joy in making Schwarzenegger’s Howard look bad (he also seems to get some joy from hitting on Howard’s wife, Liz). When Ted eats Howard’s cookies and jokingly threatens to join Liz in the shower, Howard loses his sh*t, screaming the timeless line “Put that cookie down! Now!”
Batman & Robin
Let’s be honest — pretty much every time Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze appears onscreen in Batman & Robin, everything that comes out of his mouth (a) has to do with ice, and (b) is a pun. It’s just plain silly, and so overbearing it often loses its otherwise humorous edge. But considering the vehicle that carries Schwarzenegger’s ridiculous, over-the-top performance (i.e. Batman & Robin), all the ice puns are a perfect fit. Hence why, instead of any one single moment from the film, we’ve included all of them.
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Terminator 2 was a good film, despite all its synchronous faults. The immediate sequel, however, is mostly a load of crap. The only salvageable thing about the film is Schwarzenegger’s continued presence as the converted, human-loving-not-human-killing machine. Besides, it was the early 2000s and the Terminator’s humor required various upgrades in its pop-culture references. Hence the “talk to the hand” scene at the gas-station convenience store.
Schwarzenegger’s films are almost always about him. He’s a big action star, after all. But every once in awhile, Arnold has made cameo appearances in movies spotlighting other performers, stories and genres. Sometimes, the people and plot points he’s there to support are very near and dear to his own cinematic beginnings — like with Schwarzenegger’s appearance in The Rundown, the 2003 action vehicle for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. It’s quick and dirty, but Arnold’s “have fun” line is humorous enough to predict what’s cooking for the Rock.
Some of Schwarzenegger’s cameos are just plain funny, without a hint of action about them. Such is the case for Dave, the 1993 film starring Kevin Kline as the titular presidential stand-in. Arnold was famous for promoting healthy eating and physical exercise in public schools across the country, so it felt appropriate to include him during a scene with Kline’s Dave. The latter is responsible for most of the scene’s humor, but Schwarzenegger provides Kline with a great comedic sparring partner through it all.