Running with Arnold Dan Cox

Running with Arnold Dan Cox
There’s nothing I’d like better than a cogent, clear-eyed documentary numbering the many sins of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unfortunately, all I have for my troubles is Running with Arnold, which is as convincing in its arguments as any random episode of E! True Hollywood Story. The film begins with a potted biography of the Governator, which intimates many things about the impossibly ambitious Austrian without giving enough background info to make them stick. Rushing through his rise to fame, it discusses the laziness with which voters selected him, the shady circumstances surrounding the recall vote that brought down Gray Davis and the opportunism with which Schwarzenegger set about putting a conservative agenda to work in conspicuously blue-state California. There are some seriously satisfying digs here but they’re swamped by whiplash editing, sound bites a-go-go and a preponderance of clips of comedians who may be occasionally entertaining but never really dig into the enigma of how it got this far and why people fell for it. There’s no delving beyond the surface — mostly the filmmakers make "gotcha” edits between obnoxious interviewees and out-of-context clips from the movies that suggest Mad Magazine more than impassioned, informed commentary. The commitment involved is revealed by the length of the thing, which at 72 minutes, is way, way too short to do anything other than take random shots and be humorously self-righteous. At the end of the day, the issues (which have to do with the gullibility of the body politic as much as with Schwarzenegger’s dirty tricks) are mostly just outlined and pressed into the service of filmmakers whose intentions seem less to inform the public than to build a monument to their non-existent cleverness. (Mongrel Media)