Twins (***) for a time when average comedy had a place

Twins – 1988

Director Ivan Reitman
Screenplay William Davies, Timothy Harris, William Osborne, Herschel Weingrod
Starring Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kelly Preston, Chloe Webb, Bonnie Bartlett, Tony Jay

Twins is one of those movies that I wanted to see at a time when seeing movies was not an option. Then, by the time it became more of a possibility, it felt like I had already seen the best parts, and those parts were not great. Years go by, and the realization hit that I never did watch it, and who knows, maybe it is better than I guessed. It raked in an incredible 10x the amount of its budget and Ivan Reitman created some of the better (and some of the worst) comedies of the 80’s and 90’s. What the hell.

As many of you probably know, Twins is…okay. It is not a bad movie, but it is far from a really good one. Arnold is right in the middle of his high water mark and he’s clearly fully invested in the proceedings. He’s having a ball and he is buying everything the barely usable plot offers. As the brother who got the short end of the stick, DeVito chews the scenery in the most DeVito way possible. This is always a good thing. There is no one like him.

That plot involves two children born out of a science experiment with the DNA of 6 brilliant fathers and one mother. One of these kids receives all of the gifts of the supposedly brilliant men who sired them. The other child gets the “remainder” and is quickly sent to a local orphanage.

The brilliant child, named Julius (Schwarzenegger) gets to grow up on a tropical paradise with a scientist acting as mentor and father figure. The scientist lets slip that Julius has a brother, Vincent (DeVito) who is currently living in Los Angeles. Julius decides to go ashore and look for his sibling.

There are many secrets thrown about. The children and their mother are left in the dark for reasons of plot, mainly. So the majority of the film is spent unravelling these secrets while road tripping with Vincent’s hapless girlfriend (Webb) and her sister. Will both sets of siblings end up together in the end? Will both couples end up having twins? Will their mother be welcomed back into the fold? Duh…

The film could have used at least two less writers of the four credited with the script. The story feels like a bunch of set pieces loosely patched together for purposes of seeing DeVito and Arnold having a good time.

One thing Twins does well is show the kinds of films that were made before everyone got #woke. Preston and the adorable Chloe Webb are little more than set pieces here. This is okay for the time. The film really isn’t about them. This is almost unbearable for those who learned to appreciate the value subsequent directors like The Farrelly brothers and then Judd Apatow were able to create for women characters. Reitman worked well with Sigourney Weaver in the same type of role before or after, so I guess it depends on the talent. I do miss Chloe Webb dating schlubs like DeVito and (Heart Condition) Bob Hoskins, though.

As for Reitman, this movie is right in the middle of the road, for his work. It’s not nearly as good as Dave, Stripes, Ghostbusters or Kindergarten Cop, but it’s not nearly the shitscape of Junior, Six Days, Seven Nights or Evolution. There is fun here, and a little bit of talent. There’s a whole lot more typical ’80’s bland movie making. If they ever do make that sequel with Eddie Murphy called Triplets, at least we’ll be up to speed.

(*** out of *****)

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