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Twins (1988)

by on 2013/08/09

Twins (1988)
“All theory, no practice, the story of my life.”

* * *

A scant four years after Ghostbusters, Ivan Reitman slimed audiences with the gooey comedy Twins, less a blockbuster than a high concept. That concept is: Imagine Danny DeVito (Deck the Halls) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (True Lies) . . . as twins! Ha! If your imagination is vivid, it might be enough to sustain you. Otherwise the laughs are spread a bit thin.

It may be hard to believe it now but, in 1988, Schwarzenegger was not known for being funny, at least not intentionally. He’d always had his one-liners, he’d played a sort of straight man in Red Heat, and several of his movies were nearly self-parodical. Still, his role here was fairly original.

Cast as an innocent, peaceable philosopher, Julius Benedict learns one day he’s actually the brother of a man named Vincent (DeVito). He promptly leaves his remote island home, setting out for California. There he discovers his orphaned sibling has turned to a life of crime.

Pursued by a local mobster (Maury Chaykin of Whale Music), the pair set out on a road trip. Jules believes they’re searching for relatives in New Mexico, while Vince intends to get to Texas and close One Last Deal. En route, they wind up romanticing a pair of – get this! – sisters! (Kelly Preston and Chloe Webb)

The overall experience is, appropriately, half-and-half. Gentle humour is stopped dead by some clunkers. Genuine sentimentality is stretched into cringe-worthy extents. For every fun or clever touch, there are just as many downsides.

For example, I love the cameos: Heather Graham as their young mother, David Caruso as a hood, and a nice Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) reference. I also appreciated things like the early baby scenes, how Jules expects a different man in jail, and his assumption that the two pedals in a car require both feet to drive.

On the other hand, the mixed bag of pluses don’t add up to very much. Easy targets include the dated elements, like awful fashions, cheesy music – with Arnie singing multiple times – and dancing to rival my least favourite Breakfast Clubisms. It would be simplest to blame Schwarzenegger, who’s a part of all the weakest aspects, but I’m pretty sure they all appeared in the script . . . his post-coital rictus, his psychic abilities, and other things I won’t share for spoiling.

Fortunately, the movie’s greatest salvation is related to its high concept. It benefits from an excellent chemistry between its unlikely leads; while they’re mismatched in theory, they work well together in practice. If you’re interested in a light, crowd-pleasing confection, watching two buddies ham it up, then Twins really delivers.

Oh, damn, I should have kept that pun for Junior.

* * *

Rated PG

107 minutes

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