Summer of Schwarzenegger - "Twins" (1988)
Look, I had a whole piece planned for this movie, where I'd make jokes about how great Danny DeVito is in Always Sunny, and to watch that instead of this, and how Arnold comedies are hit-or-miss, and that this was awful, and blah blah blah. It was all there. Thing is? I've, um, never watched this movie until tonight. So, the premise sounded pretty dumb, and I didn't imagine it'd be even remotely decent, let alone funny. I had plans to tear this movie a new one.
And now? Those plans are out the window, because I really had a great fucking time with Twins.
It's not for lack of trying. I really, genuinely wanted to hate this movie, because it sounded like the most bullshit premise. "Oh, man, Danny DeVito's short and pudgy, and Arnold's big and ripped, and get this: they're twins! Isn't that hilarious?" I can just imagine some stuffy executive thinking this up, then going, "yeah, man, people are fucking dumb, one famous person and a totally different famous person are twins, they'll love that shit." It just reeks of cynical corporate garbage. Red Heat, all over again. It's ironic, then, that this is one of the most authentic, heartwarming comedies I've actually ever watched. No, really.
Seriously, guys. There's no punchline here.
The basic conceit of the movie is that Arnold was bioengineered in a lab. He's the result of six men's sperm, all of whom represent the peak of human achievement in various fields, and is intended to be the embodiment of biological perfection. But the craziest thing happens: he gets all of the men's dominant genes, and he ends up with a twin brother that gets all of the recessive genes. Which, in a stroke of logic that predates Hideo Kojima, means that the twin is a total goof-up. But, instead of a mulleted blond man who wants to blow up the world, we get Danny Devito. Close enough.
So, these two were separated at birth. Arnold was raised on a desert island with a brilliant scientist, DeVito was raised in an orphanage, where he fucked a nun, set stuff on fire, and generally grew up to be a horrible little heathen. At the beginning of the movie, Arnold discovers that he has a brother, goes to find him, and antics ensue. There's a plot about a stolen jet engine component, a hitman, a gang of violent brothers, and a pair of sisters who act as surprisingly autonomous (for an 80's flick) love interests. But basically? The movie is a huge excuse to show Arnold and DeVito acting like twins. And you know what? It works.
Again, I'm not kidding around here. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's just that anything's better than the Arnold and Jim Belushi shitfest that I talked about yesterday, but the two leads have an absurd amount of comedic chemistry together. Whether they pull routines where they both absentmindedly do the same thing because they're twins, or get in culture clash moments because of their different upbringings, it all works. And why does it work? Because it's funny. The stuff here never feels forced. It seems pretty obvious that DeVito and Arnold got along pretty well and had a good time making this. It shows throughout the entire film, because it looks like they're having fun. By proxy, the audience has fun. This? This is how you do a "team-up" movie and make it entertaining.
There are moments here that just made me cackle. Arnold learning how to drive and somehow driving a car on two wheels, while Danny DeVito just gawks and yells in disbelief, for example. Or a scene where we see Arnold having sex for the first time and having the most befuddled, hilarious expressions, while DeVito has sex and just treats it as business as usual. Everything here is hysterical, partially because of the writing, partially because of the chemistry, and partially because Arnold acts like an overbearing doofus for the entire film. Again: it just works, and I guess that's part of the reason why we saw the two of them together again in Junior a few years later.
Aside from the gags and the comedic chemistry, though, there's something cool that happens here. For the first time, we actually get to see Arnold be funny. Oh, sure, he was in a comedy flick with Hercules in New York, and in an alleged comedy in Red Heat, but he, as an actor, was never given the chance to be genuinely humorous until here. Here, he's finally getting one-liners, and getting the chance to be the funny man, on equal ground as DeVito. I'd like to believe that seeing him here is what made more writers take a chance on Arnold, because as we'd later see, he can be a strong comedic lead with the right material. And this? This is arguably the first time we see that. Cool stuff.
Also, while this has nothing to do with Arnold, I want to give props to Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman. He was at the helm for this one, and he did a good job steering the whole thing in a direction that was more than just cheap gags about height differences. Instead, we get genuinely funny bits of dialogue, absurd visual gags, and a story that, at its very core, is a pretty warm and fuzzy yarn about learning to accept somebody despite their differences. This could have easily been just an excuse to laugh at Arnold's muscles and DeVito's lack thereof, but Reitman (and the four writers) took the high road and didn't just go for the gutter. It makes the whole movie that much better, because not only is it funny, and not only are the two leads good together, but it's a pretty damn good movie in its own right.
There's nothing much else I can say about Twins other than that it was funny and sweet, and that it's well worth a watch, especially considering it being on Netflix right now and all. It's one of those movies that, by all rational standards, should be a steaming pile, yet somehow manages to exceed expectations and turn out decently. Check it out if you want some good laughs and a surprisingly decent yarn.
Tomorrow, we get to see Arnold being funny and kicking ass and dressing up as a middle-aged lady in Total Recall, and, if only for a moment, forget that the reboot exists!