"Running With Arnold" might easily have been called "Running Over Arnold" as it reels off a greatest hits of the criticism leveled at actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger since he launched his political career. Perfectly in tone with election season, Dan Cox's documentary plays like a 30-second political attack ad (at 144 times the length), rehashing the accusations that have been bouncing off the Austrian-born movie star for years.
Sexual harassment, unholy alliances with big business and -- the big shocker -- broken campaign promises all get aired like so much dirty (albeit familiar) laundry. Cox does a concise job of interspersing Schwarzenegger's curriculum vitae -- Edelweiss childhood to bodybuilder millionaire at 22, No. 1 box-office star, fairy-tale marriage to Maria Shriver -- with a recounting of his 2003 recall run to unseat Gray Davis as chief executive of California.
The film breaks no real new ground, stringing together news and film clips and sound bites to relive all the full and near scandals and missteps readily reported in the mainstream media. Even the original interviews (half of which seem to be with comedians) are parsed in fairly small doses, with Alec Baldwin's droll narration loosely tying it together (though the actor reportedly asked to have his name removed from the film last year over its repeated, over-the-top-attempts to link Schwarzenegger to Adolf Hitler). Links are also made to such unsavory types as Ken Lay and Anthony Pellicano, while the media savvy/averse Arnold is likened politically to fellow thespian Ronald Reagan and the studiously handled career of George W. Bush.
But what it lacks in journalistic ambition it aims to make up for in entertainment value. Any film that can bookend Flock of Seagulls with the Dead Kennedys can't be all bad, and unless you're a staunch supporter of the Governator, you're likely to find some laughs. Maybe it pays to replace pundits with comedians after all.
"Running With Arnold." Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 12 minutes. At Laemmle's Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-3500.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times