Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.
Release Date: December 9th, 1988 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Ivan Reitman Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Kelly Preston, Chloe Webb, Bonnie Bartlett, Trey Wilson, Marshall Bell, David Caruso, Hugh O’Brian, Nehemiah Persoff, Maury Chaykin
s part of a scientific experiment conducted by the American government – designed to produce a spiritually, mentally, and physically advanced human being – twins are born. The Genetic Research Department kept the dual births a secret for years, but when Julius Benedict (Arnold Schwarzenegger) becomes an adult, he immediately goes in search of his long lost brother. Journeying from an incredibly remote South Pacific tropical island near Fiji, where he’s only ever had an opportunity to be book-smart (all theory and no practice), he heads to Los Angeles, hoping that his sibling will be exactly like him.
“We’re twins. We’re basically the same.” But on the other side of the world, Vincent Benedict (Danny DeVito) is a failing sports agent (and patio furniture salesman) and a general lowlife and crook, shacking up with random women and boosting fancy cars to pay back bookies. He also has over 200 outstanding parking tickets. And he couldn’t be further from Julius in stature, looks, or intelligence.
Julius is an easy target for conmen on the streets of L.A., but his unusual training in martial arts and physical fitness also make him largely immune to typical bullying. He eventually finds Vince at the city jail, bails him out, and hopes to tour the area for fun (visiting museums and studying philosophy together). But Vince has no interest in getting to know his new twin – until he realizes the overenthusiastic sap can be manipulated into aiding with crimes, or utilized as an impromptu bodyguard.
The premise is primarily a fish-out-of-water tale, though Vince’s wayward lifestyle and bad attitude must also be corrected, shaping the film into one of moral redemption as well. Julius is naively idealistic and grossly unaware of humanity’s ethical flaws, allowing for a great deal of comedy about fitting in, camaraderie, identity, and witnessing first-hand the indifference and vices of ordinary people. The problem is that the jokes are only slightly amusing but never laugh-out-loud funny. Slang is prominent for verbal jests, while minor slapstick (in the form of violent confrontations) fills in the gaps, but the steady barrage of lackluster wit quickly grows tiresome (soundly crippling the pacing). And the music is all wrong.
Another pitfall is the overload of subplots. The first concerns the orphan fantasy of locating rich and famous biological parents; the second follows a family of thugs seeking monies owed; and yet another involves a love story with Vince’s sometime girlfriend Linda Mason (Chloe Webb) and her sister Marnie (Kelly Preston) – serving as the sexy supermodel counterpart for the statuesque muscleman. And there’s even another, with a murderous deliveryman called Webster (Marshall Bell), who is tailing the duo’s stolen car, filled with valuable merchandise. While some of these concepts might work independently, the inclusion of all of them prevents adequate attention from reaching the most deserving ones. And, like many comedies attempting to exist in the real world, the numerous predicaments are far too severe to be approached with even a touch of sincerity; axe-wielding goons, gunshots to the ankles, hostage scenarios, and dumping girlfriends off in the middle of the desert simply don’t fit with all the goofy attempts at familial drama, the lighthearted tone, and the dismissals of deadly encounters. Plus, Schwarzenegger spends entirely too much time shirtless.
– Mike Massie