Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stubs - Twins (1988)

Twins (1988) Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Kelly Preston, Chloe Webb, Bonnie Bartlett, Tony Jay. Directed by Ivan Reitman. Screenplay by William Davies, Timothy Harris, William Osborne, Herschel Weingrod. Produced by Ivan Reitman. Run Time: 107 minutes.  USA. Color. Comedy, Crime

By 1988, Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the world’s top action heroes. The Austrian-born bodybuilder turned actor had his big breakthrough as the title character in Conan the Barbarian (1982). He would go on to a string of films including Conan the Destroyer (1984); The Terminator (1984); Red Sonja (1985); Commando (1985); Raw Deal (1986); The Running Man (1987); Predator (1987); and Red Heat (1988).

Perhaps as unlikely as Schwarzenegger’s stardom might seem, was Danny DeVito, a four-foot ten-inch actor from Neptune Township, New Jersey. Best known for his role as Louie De Palma on the television show Taxi (1978-1983), Devito had also appeared in films, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975); Terms of Endearment (1983); Romancing the Stone (1984); The Jewel of the Nile (1985); Ruthless People (1986); Tin Men (1987) and Throw Momma from the Train (1987) to name a few.

The idea of matching these total opposites was the brainchild of Ivan Reitman, a Slovakian-born director and producer of such films as National Lampoon's Animal House (1978); Meatballs (1979); Stripes (1981) and Ghostbusters (1984).

Twins is the story of mismatched fraternal twins separated at birth. Julius Benedict (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Vincent Benedict (Danny DeVito) were born as part of a secret U.S. government project to develop a perfect child. A single woman, Mary Ann Benedict (Heather Graham) was fertilized by a mix of sperm from six distinguished men, who were either brilliant or athletic. But the experiment went awry and the embryo split in two, resulting in two not so equal boys.

Twins at birth and quickly separated.

One, Julius has been whisked away and raised on a tropical island by Professor Werner where he’s learned science, literature and multiple languages as he assists with the doctor’s research. He also developed muscles to spare.

On his 35th birthday, Julius is informed by Werner that Vincent exists. Excited that he has a brother, and thinking he is like him, Julius can’t wait and rows himself to the nearest island with an airport for a flight to the U.S.

He goes to the orphanage and quickly learns that his brother is not like him at all. Not only did Vincent start the only fire they’d ever had at the orphanage, but he also was kicked out after having had sex with one of the nuns. Vincent’s file is empty, but the Mother Superior (Frances Bay) tells Julius that Vincent is most likely in jail.

And that’s where Julius finds him. Vincent, a small-time crook, has been arrested for unpaid parking tickets. But Vincent doesn’t believe Julius at first but he lets Julius bail him out and get his car released. But that’s where Vincent leaves Julius.

Julius (Arnold Schwarzenegger) saves his twin brother
 Vincent (Danny DeVito) from a loan shark enforcer.

Julius, though, is undeterred and follows Vincent to his place of business, an office where he runs a shady operation by an aware Secretary (Elizabeth Kaitan). But after she’s gone, Vincent is visited by Morris Klane (David Efron), a loan shark enforcer intent on making Vincent pay for being behind on his loan. Julius arrives just in time to save Vincent’s life and subdues Klane. Now Vincent likes Julius and brings him into his inner circle.

Julius helps his brother by unwittingly helping to steal a car.

He uses Julius, who is quite na├»ve about the real world, to help him steal a car from a garage at the airport. Vincent has a contact, Al Greco (David Caruso), who lets him know that an expensive late-model Cadillac Sedan de Ville has been left. Vincent needs the money he can get for selling the car to a chop shop to help pay off his loans. Telling Julius that he’s there to pick up a car for a friend that’s going to be auctioned to help children, Vincent innocently breaks in, since the keys weren’t left like they were supposed to be. When the car alarm goes off, Julius lifts the car to the right angle to turn it off and then drives Vincent’s car out, his first time to ever drive a car.

Vincent introduces Julius to his girlfriend Linda (Chloe Webb) and her much hotter sister Marnie (Kelly Preston).

Using car phones, Vincent calls Julius and instructs him to stop at a grocery store. Pulling into the parking lot, Julius manages to get the car up onto two wheels before parking. In the store, Vincent runs into his long-suffering girlfriend Linda Mason (Chloe Webb) and her sister Marnie (Kelly Preston). Marnie dislikes Vincent but is taken by muscle-bound Julius.

Over a microwave dinner at home, Vincent shows Julius a document he stole from the orphanage, showing that their mother was alive when he entered the orphanage, but believing that she abandoned him, Vincent has no interest in finding her.

Julius finds one of their possible fathers, Granger (Hugh O'Brien), at an address he had for their mother.

Later, jogging to the address on the document for their mother, Julius finds instead that one of their six fathers Granger (Hugh O’Brien) lives there. He directs Julius to Professor Mitchell Traven (Nehemiah Persoff) at the White Sands lab where the experiment took place.

Meanwhile, Vincent steals a late-model Cadillac Sedan de Ville from airport parking for his chop shop contact. While driving, he plays a cassette tape that is in the player and learns that he has a prototype fuel injector in the trunk that was to be delivered to an industrialist, Beetroot McKinley (Trey Wilson), in Houston. When Vincent calls pretending to be the deliveryman, trying to sweeten, he finds out that the deal is worth five million dollars. Vincent is headed to Houston.

However, the real deliveryman, a mercenary known as Mr. Webster (Marshall Bell), starts looking for Vincent. Webster doesn’t like anyone to have seen his face, so he offs his original employers and Al at the parking garage. Webster pursues Vincent.

Finding out that Vincent is going to Texas, Julius decides that he will go right by Traven’s lab, so he invites himself along on the trip. Then Linda and Marnie arrive with a belated birthday cake for the twins. Linda insists to go along and Marnie wants to go if Julius is going.

Professor Mitchell Traven (Nehemiah Persoff) initially lies to the boys.

When they get to New Mexico, Traven originally lies to the boys, but when Julius gets mad and knocks down the door, Traven changes his tune. He tells them that their mother is alive and living in an art colony outside of Santa Fe.

Finally, with matching outfits, Vincent and Julius are indistinguishable.

Before they leave town, Vincent gets Julius something better than shorts and a t-shirt to wear. They end up in matching outfits, but they are still easily told apart.

The Klane brothers catch up to them, but it doesn't end well.

En route, they stop at a nightclub. On stage is a band which includes Nicolette Larson as the singer and Jeff Beck on guitar. There the Klane brothers, who are already walking wounded after their own encounter with Webster, try again to collect their money from Vincent. And once again, they don’t account for Julius.

Julius is a changed man after one night with Marnie.

That night, while Linda and Vincent get better acquainted, Marnie seeks refuge in Julius’ motel room. Julius starts out on the floor but Marnie joins him and the 35-year-old virgin is no more.

The brothers come to an art colony looking for their mother.

The next morning, they end up at the art colony, where a painter informs them that their mother had died. She leads them back out of the complex and they leave, not realizing that the painter, was, in fact, their mother, Mary Ann (Bonnie Bartlett), who doesn’t believe their story, believing instead that her child died at birth.

Their mother, Mary Ann (Bonnie Bartlett), doesn't believe their story.

When they stop on the road, Vincent decides that the others would be in danger, so he leaves them at the gas station and drives off to Houston. But, of course, Julius has to take chase, catching the first plane he can. In Houston, Julius co-opts a stereotypical Texan car, with longhorns on the grill. He uses his twin ESP, something they haven’t had until now, to find Vincent.

The original deliveryman, Mr. Webster (Marshall Bell), is waiting in Houston.

Vincent is, meanwhile, on his way to make the delivery to McKinley, who gives him the $5 million for the prototype. But moments later, Webster kills McKinley and demands the money from Vincent. Julius arrives in time to thwart Webster and let Vincent escape, but he returns and agrees to give the money to Webster to save his brother’s life.

Julius saves Vincent who, in turn, returns to save him, but Webster decides to kill them both.

But Webster doesn’t like to let people live who have seen his face and decides to kill them. But Julius outsmarts him and buries Webster under a long and heavy chain, apparently killing him.

Mr. Webster is about to get it good.

Fast forward and Vincent has returned the prototype to the rightful owner as well as the $4 million he was paid. Using that money as well as a reward, the brothers start a consulting firm.

At the art colony, Mary Ann is shown a newspaper story about the twins and then suddenly believes they are her sons. She visits Traven and is violent with him for concealing the truth from her.
Next, she tracks her sons down at their workplace and the family is reunited.

At the end, the family is reunited, the boys are married and both couples have twins.

The film ends with Mary Ann with Professor Werner on an outing with her sons and their wives, the Mason sisters. Both couples have had their own sets of twins.

Released on December 9, 1988, Twins would receive mixed to negative reviews on its way to making $216.6 million at the box-office. The film was enough of a success to warrant a reunion of its main stars in Junior (1994) another comedy directed by Reitman.

Schwarzenegger shows that he’s a more versatile actor, but comedy is really not his calling. Twins is sort of like a Saturday Night Live sketch that gets stretched out to a full-length movie. The initial premise is funny, Schwarzenegger and DeVito as twins, but it is the stretching it out to full-length film where the stretch marks show.

The subplot with the stolen prototype helps make this premise feature length, but the twin ESP seems like a bit of a stretch. It’s not supposed to be a location finder as it is sometimes used here. And if it was truly as strong as the film makes it out to be, then Julius and Vincent would have realized the other existed before now. I’m not saying twins, especially identical, might not have something like ESP, but it’s not something that can be turned on like a light switch. You either have it or you don’t.

The characters do go through changes, no more so that DeVito’s Vincent who not only discovers the strength of family but eventually thrives in it. His cynical approach to the sudden appearance of Julius seems somewhat genuine, as would most anyone if someone like Schwarzenegger showed up at your doorstep claiming to be your long lost never-knew-you-existed sibling.

This is not to say there are not some funny moments, but there are also several murders by a psychopath which seem like an odd element for what is supposed to be a laugh-out-loud comedy. It can be done, I’m thinking Keanu (2016), but it is still a risk that doesn’t always pay off.

While there are some funny moments in Twins, the film has not aged all that well. There is an 80’s vibe to the film, including a rather forgettable theme song, that scream that this is a film from another time. If you’re a die-hard fan of Schwarzenegger’s or DeVito’s, then you will want to see Twins. Otherwise, this may not be the film for you.

If you like Twins, then you might also like Powers Squared, a comic book about college-age twins who were granted awesome powers when they were young. Written by the writers of Trophy Unlocked and available at ComiXology.

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