Throwback Thirty – Twins (1988)

So today is the first in my new series that I have, ingeniously, called Throwback Thirty. As I laid out in my blog update post, for the next 52 Thursdays, I will review a film that came out the same year that I was born. This is all in honour of my 30th birthday: an event that will take place on March 5th. Am I making a big deal of it in the hope it distracts me from the fact that I’ve not made it to the point I thought I’d be at this age? Maybe? Am I also hoping that seeming okay with it will make me comfortable with being a 30 year old? Maybe? Am I just using it as an excuse to watch loads of questionable 80s movies? Erm… hells yeah! I am a huge love of 80s films anyway so a year of watching some of my old favourites and some that I’ve never seen before sounds perfect. I’ve put the title of loads (way more than 52) films in a jar and each week I will pick out a title. By happy circumstance that first title I picked out was Twins. I guess it’s only right considering I am, in fact, a twin myself so this is also my sister’s 30th birthday year. In our 3 decades together, my sister and I have never got involved in a dodgy deal about a prototype fuel injector but we’ve got into some scrapes. I’ve got no doubt that I’d be the Danny DeVito of the pair and she’d be Arnie… although I’m not sure she’d necessarily think that was a good thing. We’re very different people. Me? I’ve been practicing trying to say “put the cookie down now” in my best Arnie voice ever since I watched Jingle All the Way last month.

I defy anyone to hear the premise of twins for the first time and not be thoroughly excited by it. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito play twins who were created by scientists from a bunch of perfect specimens. The aim was to create a genetically perfect man, Julius (Arnie, duh!). Julius was born with all the great aspects of human existence but the scientists who created him found that all the leftover shit was put together to form his twin brother Vincent (DeVito). Whilst Julius was raised on an island paradise to get the best upbringing possible, Vince was abandoned to a orphanage. He grew up to become a sleazy, womanising car thief. When Julius comes looking for his brother, he hopes for a loving reunion. Instead gets dragged into a dodgy deal that sees Vince trying to net himself $5 million. You know, the standard family get-together. To make this reunion extra special, the pair attempt to track down their long lost mother in New Mexico whilst being accompanied by Vince’s on/off girlfriend and her sister.

Twins had the greatest potential to be a fantastic film. The mismatch of Danny DeVito and Arnie is just superb and there are some great moments of visual comedy because of this. This is undoubtedly a silly film but it does reach a point where it all gets repetitive. The copied movements of the brothers is funny the first few times but there is an over reliance on the joke as the film goes on. As much as I do adore this film, I have to admit there isn’t much to it. The film just doesn’t take enough of the chances it has to be funny. It tries too hard to make something serious out the narrative. Instead of being a light-hearted comedy about two very different twins trying to find their mother, Twins is attempting to turn this into a weird crime/action thriller whilst also flitting into romantic-comedy. I know we’re talking about a film where Danny DeVito and Arnie are twins so we should take it with a pinch of salt. However, it does really start to fall about when it tries to do so many things at once.

It just loses its way and misses a load of opportunities to make lots of jokes. Considering the people that were making this film it should have been a winner. Director Ivan Reitman, who made it look so easy in Ghostbusters should have made more of the premise and the comedy skills of Danny DeVito. Even Arnie himself has enough charm and wit to be able to make some jokes land. It’s not as if there wasn’t enough potential for it but this film just went off in too many directions. Still, I’m not entirely sure I really care about that. For me, it’s difficult not to enjoy this film on some level. I mean it’s fucking ridiculous and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing the two leads just standing around in matching outfits. Yes, it won’t win any awards but it’s not the worst way to pay 107 minutes.

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