Ivan Reitman’s (Ghostbusters, Stripes) Twins opens with a description of a scientific experiment that chose six men with highly desirable traits in order to create a person who would be “physically, mentally, and spiritually” perfect. The experiment leads to the creation of Julius Benedict, played by Arnold, but also produces a twin, Vincent Benedict, played by Danny DeVito. Vincent is taken to a tropical island and becomes highly educated in every respect, even martial arts. Vincent is sent off to an orphanage in Los Angeles. After 35 years, the scientist who is researching with Julius informs him about Vincent, and he sets off to find him.
The narrative of the film is that Vincent is a scumbag who is into theft, bumming money from his girlfriend, Linda, and just a run of the mill type loser. He sees Julius as his easy ticket, and comedy ensues as the ultra-naïve Julius has no idea of cultural norms and has a hard time seeing through his love for his long-lost brother. During one of Vincent’s car-stealing collaborations with his friend who works the airport parking structure, he inadvertently intercepts SOMETHING that is supposed to be sold to a man named Beetroot McKinley in Houston. Vincent discovers the $5 million offer from McKinley and decides to cash in on the deal himself, but Julius, Linda, and her sister Marnie (Kelly Preston), who is crushing on Julius all end up tagging along. On the way, they stop at the New Mexico lab where the two of them were concocted.
The part of the film that takes place in Los Angeles, shows a very 1980’s Los Angeles. There are multiple shots in the film that show theaters and what they are playing. Mann’s Chinese Theater is shown with Willow posters on the outside, and another theater is shown with Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood on its marquee. This along with the cars, the fashion, the use of car phones, and smoking in supermarkets all compile into this time capsule of a film to give a loving glimpse to the excess of 1988.
I feel that Twins is a contender for Crazy ‘88 for the sheer absurdity of the idea that Arnold and Danny DeVito are long-lost twins who were the product of a genetic experiment. Arnold uses his action-star, hardbody image to portray genetic perfection while DeVito, known for being short and bald, is the exact opposite in every way. In one of my favorite shots of the film, Arnold sees a poster for Rambo III that features a shirtless Sylvester Stallone. He looks at it, then feels his own arm, and smiles and waves off the image of Stallone.
Despite having to learn various figures of speech like “tossing cookies” and “dickhead”, Arnold gets to utter what is perhaps his single most recognized line when he is threatening the scientist who works at the lab.
Twins isn’t even close to the weirdest Reitman-Schwarzenegger-DeVito team-up involving a genetic experiment, but it wasn’t released in 1988, so I won’t be discussing that one this year. This film, in all its absurdity, still finds a way to tell an interesting story about family and humanity.
-By Kirk Yoshonis