A Cheesy Childermas
(A Companion Post to "Los Inocentes!")
Yes, we remember the Holy Innocents here. It's the Fourth Day of Christmas, after all, and Christmas and children go together like Advent and candles.
In honour of One Who must have enjoyed His own childhood so much that He would later say, "Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to Me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such," I have put together a Top 5 List which makes peace between the manly man and the meddling kid.
My Top 5 Action Star Au Pairs:
1) Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop
This is arguably the movie which started it all. I'm sure a "prequel" to tell the story of Detective John Kimble's life up to the moment he trails Cullen Crisp at that LA shopping mall would be every 80s Action Movie cliche and then some. ("I'm the Party Pooper," anyone?) I know I wouldn't mind seeing it! Yet no matter how great it is, it will never be as great as Kindergarten Cop. (Follow the live blog--if you dare.)
As a teacher, I appreciate the way Kimble finds common ground between what he knows and can do well and what the children need. His Police School model should be taught in Colleges of Education everywhere!
And as someone who has serious issues with single motherhood, I'm glad that this movie actually tells the truth about it--and does so with great compassion and humour.
Finally, there's just something about Schwarzenegger . . . Admit it: you'd trust him with your own kids. He's had such great, natural chemistry with all his young co-stars: Alyssa Milano in Commando (which I also live blogged), Eddie Furlong in Terminator 2, Austin O'Brien in Last Action Hero, Eliza Dushku in True Lies, and all the little tykes in this movie.
2) Vin Diesel in The Pacifier
Once upon a time, there was a family of elves . . . And one day the little elf family went into the magic forest to look for . . . a secret gnome facility . . .
Oh, yeah, this movie has the best script! I love that bedtime story--especially the part about the elves not leaving any man behind, not even the littlest elf, Rodriguez.
Oh, all right, it's not flawless. Let me know when you're done grumbling . . .
Again, we see an intersection--a perfect fit, really--between what the tough guy is good at and what the children need from him. So the sixteen-year-old girl learns to drive the family minivan like a Bradley assault vehicle, her little sister's girl scout troop gets to use some dirty martial arts tricks on the bullies harrassing them, and even the family pet gets its inner guard dog affirmed and honoured.
What does our tough guy get out of this? Let's just say that there's more to the "Peter Panda Dance" than it seems at the beginning.
3) Tommy Lee Jones in Man of the House
The only thing worse than a bunch of bratty kids is a bunch of bratty teenagers--because the teenagers are (presumably) old enough to know better . . . and yet still don't. (I speak from experience.)
Something almost as precious as a hardened inner city police detective going undercover as a kindergarten teacher is a no-nonsense Texas Ranger going undercover as an assistant cheerleading coach.
By the way, if you happen to live in Austin, you'll apparently recognise some of the houses and restaurants in the movie.
Since this is very much a "girl power" movie, we don't have the Ranger training the cheerleaders, but the cheerleaders giving the Ranger a makeover, valuable first date tips, and a chance to
4) Jackie Chan in The Spy Next Door
All right, this one hasn't come out yet and all I know about it is from the official trailer . . . but it's also the movie that inspired this whole post, so it has to be here!
This time, our Tough Guy is a potential step-father who has to get on the good side of his girlfriend's children. Spy work as bonding? Hey, it's feasible! And given that "Mom's Boyfriend" is a source of nightmares to many helpless fathers, it's good to see someone who uses his superior strength to protect these kids instead.
Besides, look at that cute little piggy! How can you expect me to resist a movie with a cute little piggy??? Indeed, in a movie like this, the quirky pet is the cherry on top. Kindergarten Cop has a ferret; The Pacifier has a duck; this one has a pig. =)
(Man of the House has no pets, but at one point, Jones's character tackles the Longhorn mascot Bevo. That totally counts . . . right?)
Now repeat after me: "Spying is easy. Baby-sitting is hard." So true . . .
5) Christopher Y------ in Sanctus Christopher
How could I complete this list without mentioning the Catholic blogosphere's own Action Star???
After landing his big break with a small but utterly crucial role in a World War II movie, Y------- went on to play many memorable Tough Guy roles--too many to mention here. My personal favourite is his cameo in an artsy but well-received Filipino film about the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, and I'm still pumping my shady black market contacts for the deleted scene in which his character singlehandedly saves a school bus full of Filipino children from a river of lahar.
Insistent on doing his own stunts, Y------- was nearly gored by a belligerent bull while playing cinema's most beloved Border Patrol agent. That stampede scene is still a favourite among his die-hard fans, who believe he was robbed--ROBBED, I tell you--of that year's Best Actor Oscar.
Of course, this Action star's career was not without its flops. The less said about his portrayal of Dr. Marsh Tracy in Daktari: The Movie, the better. Yet I digress . . .
Perhaps the greatest role of Y-------'s career is the most surprising one. At the height of a career that rivaled those of fellow Catholics Schwarzenegger (Austrian) and Stallone (Italian) , nobody would have guessed that Y------- (Polish) was born to play the role of the Pater Familias in the Drama/Comedy hit Sanctus Christopher. In this heartwarming family show, our once-feared Tough Guy is utterly convincing as putty in the hands of two little girls, their lovely mother, and the Mother of God herself!
Needless to say (but I'll say it, anyway), I tune in as often as I can. (Oh, yeah, the quirky pet in this one is a female squirrel named Charlie. Really.)
Image Sources: a) Kindergarten Cop poster, b) The Pacifier poster, c) Man of the House poster, d) The Spy Next Door poster