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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Retro Review: Twins (1988) #Schwarzenegger

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Devito, Kelly Preston 
Genre: Buddy Comedy 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $200 million 

Plot: The products of a genetic experiment, fraternal twins Julius and Vincent are separated at birth. Their mother Mary Ann is told they're dead. Now Vincent, an unscrupulous street hustler, ekes out a living in Los Angeles. Julius, raised by a scientist, grows up a humble, intelligent and strong, but very naive about the larger world. When Julius learns of his mother and brother, he heads to Los Angeles to find his family 

'Decent Comedy Starring Arnie and Danny - Yet Doesn't Quite Do Enough For Me'

Rewatching Twins there is something about Twins that made me think that for what it's worth, something is clearly missing in this comedy and for an Ivan Reitman comedy film, it just didn't quite connect with me on the same level as that of say Ghostbusters, Kindergarten Cop and Fathers' Day

I remembered the first time I saw the trailer for this film on TV, I thought to myself, 'this is a really weird idea', but I also smiled at the humourous parts of it too. Today, for a so-called comedy, Twins is actually a light-hearted effort that comes across as more dramatic and in cases emotional, in tone. 

Twin brothers in Julius and Vincent reunite several years later as adults and they set out in search of their mother - who was led to believe that they have died -, in the hopes of rebuilding their relationship and becoming a family, once again. Julius is a muscle-bound hunk, but also intelligent, has a down-to-earth attitude and is multilingual to boot, whereas Vincent is dishonest, has a bit of a cynical attitude, is a thief and quite brash. Vincent hates his mother, and still holds a massive grudge towards her and doesn't want anything to do with her, whilst Julius is a lot more forgiving and eager to go to great lengths to get hold of their mother. This part of this movie also sees Julius help change his brother's ways over this particular issue.

Whilst the story and the plot are interesting and holds merit in a way, there is a lot of promising potential - yet this is never fully realised. With regards to the comedy aspect, strangely, especially by Reitman's usual standards, this is underplayed and when there is comedy this is through Schwarzenegger's comedic charm as he plays against type, which is minimal and relies less so on funny one-liners and pratfalls. Although it was still fun seeing Julius beat the crap out of the bad guys and Vincent smacking one of them on the head with a guitar! The first of 3 collaborations with Ivan Reitman & Arnie, Twins was the movie that showed how adept Arnie was in a comedy, without coming off as looking awkward. 

The title Twins couldn't be any more misleading as it is, as Arnie and Danny Devito don't resemble each other, one single bit. It should be renamed as 'Non-Identical Twins'. 

Julius's mother is played by an unaccredited and unrecognisable Heather Graham during a flashback scene, whereas the female supporting actresses give underwhelming performances as the guys' love interests/girlfriends. Mrs John Travolta aka Kelly Preston's portrayal didn't impress me, and we get no sense of her actual character and personality. Other than the fact that she is attractive looking, blonde and of whom falls for Julius. People rag on the likes of Julia Roberts and yet Preston is very, or make that more wooden and one-dimensional as an actress, in stark contrast. 

The love scene with Julius and Marnie was kind of.... awkward. The other actress playing the love interest opposite to Vincent also had no personality. Danny Devito, is well, Danny Devito as Vincent but he and Arnie gelled extremely well. As for Arnie, he did all right in his first comedy effort, but his comedic skills have improved since. I preferred him in Kindergarten Cop and Jingle All The Way. But with that being said, in the emotional aspects, Arnold handles them well in Twins. Just when Vincent endures a few mishaps, Julius is on hand to help his sibling out. 

There are some silliness, comical misunderstandings along the way with physical gags, but it plays it straight as an upbeat drama. I think the issue some people had with it, was that it starts out as a sort of a farce comedy for the first hour or so, but then as it suddenly develops further, the film turns and becomes more and overly dramatic - which given Twins is billed as a comedy, first and foremost, doesn't quite make sense.

The humour comes from the binary opposition qualities of Julius and Vincent and in some cases, it works. It's Schwarzenegger and DeVito's charisma that makes Twins tick, more than the story and for the other cast members. There is also a subplot involving mobsters and a hitman who kills anyone who sees his face. The ending was as expected, but also really touching and nice. 

Final Verdict:

Despite the odd pairing of Schwarzenegger and Devito, Twins is a decent comedy that is enjoyable at times and a significant one also for Schwarzenegger, as it helped him break new ground in the comedy movie field. Even if the comedic aspect is underplayed here. Yet Twins has heart in places and some nice moments, is fun at times and the brother-buddy chemistry of Arnie and Danny Devito worked. Contrary to a lot of people, I liked the casting of those two, though the supporting female characters didn't impress me. Having Kelly Preston was not necessary, though it didn't help that the writers didn't do more with her character - other than for her to be a pretty looking, girlfriend-to-be for Arnie. 

Where Twins falls short against Kindergarten Cop and Jingle All The Way is when the serious moments tend to override the comedy, and that it lacked that certain something for me to make it fully worthwhile. 

I enjoy so many of Ivan Reitman's movies, but Twins isn't bad; though it is also not quite on the level of Arnie's other comedies, Kindergarten Cop and Jingle All The Way. 


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