Reluctant Townie: Schwarztallonis: The Age of Brawn
Now more than ever, we should be grateful for our existence, as we are living in the midst of a very special time. If you stroll out to your backyard any night this week and glance skyward, you will notice that Planet Hollywood is visible to the naked eye.
That can only mean one thing: Now is the time of Schwarztallonis, the Age of Brawn, a sacred and joyous observance of the greatest warriors of our time (or any).
From mid-January until Valentine's Day, multiplexes across the country will be transported back to the year 1993, as mankind sees the back-to-back releases of a new Arnold Schwarzenegger film, a new Sylvester Stallone film and a new installment in Bruce Willis' "Die Hard" franchise.
It is a glorious time to be alive on Earth. I feel tremendous sadness for all of those who have died or have not yet been born. They might never know the true glory of Schwarztallonis.
Once upon a time, the collective members of Schwarztallonis were box-office powerhouses, monoliths of muscle and attitude, but the action giants' stars have faded over the past two decades as they pursued other passions: Schwarzenegger had politics; Willis had blues harmonica; Stallone had budget-level plastic surgery.
They came back together for a few tantalizing cameos in "The Expendables" and its cleverly titled sequel "The Expendables 2" — but in all, the reunion only amounted to a few paltry minutes of screen time. Mankind demanded more.
We had been lost in a desert of actionless stars for far too long (in all of the years since Schwarztallonis reigned supreme, few successors have emerged besides the permanently stubble-jawed Jason Statham and the once-in-every-five-Disney-films Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), and we desperately needed a cool, refreshing drink of testosterone. Even if that testosterone was naturally waning with age and required bimonthly injections, it still packed more of a punch than all of the Shia LaBeoufs and Taylor Laughtners of the world combined.
Now here we are, living through the Golden Renaissance of the American action film. How will you celebrate?
When "The Expendables 2" was released last summer, I compiled a helpful guide to help bros take their fellow bros on bro dates with the least amount of awkwardness possible. That advice still stands. Here are the highlights:
— PICK THE RIGHT BRO;
— TEXT, DON'T CALL;
— DINNER AND A MOVIE = DOING IT WRONG; SIX-PACK IN THE PARKING LOT BEFORE THE MOVIE = DOING IT RIGHT;
— CONCEDE THE ARMREST;
— AVOID THE "COUPLES SPECIAL" DESPITE ITS INTRINSIC VALUE;
— NO COLOGNE; and
— CHERISH YOUR EXPERIENCE TOGETHER FOREVER.
Celebrating Schwarztallonis differs from seeing "The Expendables 2" only in that it's three separate films, so it requires three separate bro dates. Choosing the right bro (or chick in the know, #EqualOpportunity) is slightly more of an art during Schwarztallonis.
Let's break it down by film.
— ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, "The Last Stand."
Release date: Jan. 18.
Rating: R for "Strong bloody violence throughout and language."
What the rating tells us: That you'd better be in the mood for f-bombs and strong bloody violence throughout. Yeah, baby, just like mama used to make it!
Plot: Arnold is the sheriff of a small border town that stands in the way of a drug kingpin's escape route to Mexico.
Ideal bro date: One who appreciates Schwarzenegger's unique blend of strong bloody violence and mostly intentional comedy. He's the kind of bro, or chick in the know, who will always get to da choppa on time.
Supplemental viewing material (optional): "Raw Deal," "Red Heat," "Collateral Damage."
— SYLVESTER STALLONE, "Bullet to the Head."
Release date: Feb. 1.
Rating: R for "strong violence, bloody images, language, some nudity and brief drug use."
What the rating tells us: The violence is strong, the images are bloody, the bad language occurs more frequently than the drug use, and congratulations, you're in for some nudity. (On the movie nudity scale, "some nudity" always trumps "brief nudity" or "partial nudity." Yay!)
Plot: Stallone plays a hit man who teams up with a cop to hunt down the person responsible for killing his partner.
Ideal bro date: One who appreciates Stallone's signature brand of thinking-man action films. After all, Stallone is the Bard of Brawn. While Schwarzenegger's foray into nonfiction tanked last year and Willis has probably never written anything of importance in his life other than unpublished Penthouse letters and "Hudson Hawk" (in that order), Stallone is an Academy Award-nominated writer/director who is paradoxically responsible for "Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot" with Estelle Getty. What a paradox. Your bro date should encompass this intellectual diversity as well.
Supplemental viewing material (optional): "The Specialist" (one of my favorite worst movies ever, #UnnecessaryShowerSex), "Cobra," "Assassins."
— BRUCE WILLIS, "A Good Day To Die Hard."
Release date: Feb. 14.
Rating: R for "violence and language."
What the rating tells us: Detective John McClane got rid of that stupid swear jar from "Die Hard 4." Yippie-Ki-Yay, Bleep Bleep.
Plot: "Die Hard" in Russia.
Ideal bro date: Blue-collar, working-class bro from Jersey who is always quick with the wit and smart in the mouth. Scrappy. Confident. An underdog who always comes out on top.
Required viewing (not optional): "Die Hard," "Die Hard 2: Die Harder," "Die Hard with a Vengeance" and the scene in "Live Free or Die Hard" where Bruce Willis hangs 10 on the wing of a fighter jet.
Happy Schwarztallonis everyone! May you all be blessed with bulging pecs and bursting biceps!
Ryan Jackson's not kidding about "The Specialist," and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.