Saturday 6 April 2019

Movie Review: Twins (1988)

A buddy comedy about mismatched men discovering they are brothers, Twins draws some laughs from its kooky premise but otherwise struggles to build a meaningful narrative.

Julius Benedict (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the perfect human being, a product of a US government science experiment mixing the DNA of six carefully selected men with one remarkable woman, who unfortunately died in childbirth. Physically superior, emotionally mature and well educated, Julius has spent his sheltered life working with scientists on a tropical island.

Julius is shocked to learn he has a twin brother Vincent, an unwanted byproduct of the experiment who was sent to an orphanage upon birth. He ventures to Los Angeles and finds Vincent (Danny DeVito), a scrappy car thief owing money to loan sharks. They eventually team up and learn that not everything they were told about their parents is true. Meanwhile, Vincent steals a car with valuable merchandise in the trunk, and has an opportunity to finally get rich.

After firmly establishing his credentials as one of the world's premier action movie superstars, Arnold Schwarzenegger branches out into his first comedy role. Twins is built on a simple big-man small-man buddy concept, adding in simple themes of nature versus nurture and the benefits of a privileged upbringing.

Of course director Ivan Reitman isn't too interested in seriously exploring of any social topics. Twins goes after pretty basic humour portraying Julius as strong and book smart but naive and Vincent as a street survivor with a chip on his shoulder because life offered him nothing. The MacGuffin item-in-the-trunk leads to poorly defined bad guy Webster (Marshall Bell), and some bland action in the final quarter to satisfy Arnold's core fan base.

Enroute, plenty of momentum is lost with a sidequest romance featuring Vincent's girlfriend Linda (Chloe Webb) and her knockout sister Marnie (Kelly Preston). Once Vincent learns Julius is a virgin, setting him up with Marnie becomes an obsession occupying way too much screen time. The two women are overall treated badly by a script surrendering to male fantasy exploitive tendencies.

Schwarzenegger is quickly at ease in the lighter milieu, more than adept at making fun of his own image and deploying his muscular presence to serve a steady stream of humour. The partnership with DeVito is a natural fit, the two immediately sharing chemistry built on having nothing in common and therefore everything to learn from each other.

Twins is a classic exercise in broadening a star's audience, the quality of the content less important than the appeal of the concept.

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