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TWINS

         

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday,Jan. 15, 2021

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito were big stars in the 1980s and putting them together for ‘Twins’ must have seemed like a genius proposition — and it paid off, since the film, despite my misgivings in the review below, was a big hit, slotted comfortably as the 16th biggest moneymaker of 1988. In fact, the stars are being reunited for a belated sequel titled ‘Triplets,’ with Eddie Murphy rounding out the titular trio. And ‘Twins’ has now earned a new Blu-ray release from the Shout! Factory, with a pair of new featurettes for fans. My review was published in the Deseret News on Dec. 9, 1988.

 

“Twins” is what is known in show business as a “high-concept movie.” That is, it’s a sure-fire idea with a sure-fire pair of stars.

 

Unfortunately, it is also what critics refer to as a “boardroom movie.” That is, it looks as if it was conceived by a bunch of “suits” (businessmen) sitting around a huge table discussing movie clichés that must be included to ensure a film’s commercial success.

 

Personally, I’m convinced that a really good movie, whether it is a “commercial” concept or not, will wind up being commercial. If it’s really good, word-of-mouth will ensure staying power.

 

          

 

From left, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kelly Preston, Danny DeVito, Chloe Webb, ‘Twins’ (1988)

 

But what usually happens with “high-concept” movies that have no real thought behind them is that they do very well at the box office for two or three weeks, then quickly fade away. The super-fans of the stars get out to see the film right away, but it does nothing beyond that.

 

There are exceptions, of course. Mediocre films like “The Golden Child” and “Coming to America” did incredible box office business just because Eddie Murphy fans will go see him in anything — and then they’ll go see it again and again. Similarly, “Scrooged” is presently riding on Bill Murray’s coattails.

 

This is all leading up to the review of “Twins,” an idea by director Ivan Reitman (“Ghostbusters”) about Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger playing twin brothers who don’t know of each other’s existence until they are adults.

 

The idea was turned over to two sets of screenwriting partners who turned it into a formula sitcom.

 

This is basically a one-joke movie, a joke that stretches pretty thin. DeVito is a streetwise conman in Los Angeles and Schwarzenegger is a naïve innocent reared on a remote island. Schwarzenegger goes to L.A. to look up DeVito, his first visit to “civilization,” and the standard fish-out-of-water gags ensue.

 

          

 

         Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, 'Twins' (1988)

 

Then DeVito steals a car that has something in the trunk that is supposed to be delivered to an unscrupulous Texan, and pretty soon there are chases and shootouts and all the standard bad-movie formula fare.

 

The sad thing about all of this is that, surprisingly, Schwarzenegger and DeVito are quite good together, and Schwarzenegger’s naïve innocence is the perfect foil for DeVito’s wiseacre smart-guy. (The in-joke when Schwarzenegger compares his biceps to a huge poster of Sylvester Stallone from “Rambo III” is an especially nice touch.)

 

If Reitman and his screenwriters had just been confident enough about their stars’ ability to carry the material, “Twins” could have been a much more enjoyable film. As it is, the two-star rating is just for the two stars.

 

“Twins” is rated PG for violence, profanity, implied sex, vulgarity and a quick nude shot when a Playboy magazine is opened.