Twins (1988)

twins_1Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Kelly Preston, Chloe Webb, Bonnie Bartlett, Trey Wilson, Marshall Bell, David Caruso, Hugh O’Brian, Nehemiah Persoff, Maury Chaykin, Tony Jay, Heather Graham

Directed by Ivan Reitman

Expectations: Optimistic that I’ll still like it.

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Twins is a hard movie to criticize because as much as I know it’s not a great movie, I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it. It’s films like this that make me question the necessity of critics to judge the “effectiveness” of a film. I did some quick research and, as I suspected, despite being a huge box-office hit, the critics gave Twins largely mixed and negative reviews. In my ’80s nostalgia I like to believe that everyone back then knew how to have a good time, but these critics are evidence against my ridiculous theory. Somehow over the last 20–30 years their desire for more realistic, less goofy films took hold, and movies like Twins are relics of the year they were produced, trapped in amber for all to peruse.

I know I’m getting rather heady for a film about Arnold and Danny DeVito playing twins, but the film’s happy-go-lucky nature brought as many thoughts about the current state of film as it did genuine smiles. This probably isn’t too different from how I experience a lot of ’80s films these days, although this one is a little light on plot, allowing for these heady thoughts to creep in. Regular readers will know my general preference for ’80s films over current stuff, and this film really reminded me of that tangible, real-world beauty that is largely missing from the slick, focus-tested films of current Hollywood.

twins_2So what is it about Twins that makes it such an entertaining piece of ’80s cinema? Well, Arnold is a big draw for me, of course, but teaming him with Danny DeVito somehow makes Arnold even better. This film marked a huge shift in Arnold’s career, too. He had made his name in action films, but no matter how much we all love them now, they were not the box-office explosions that Twins and Arnold’s later films were. It was Twins that put Arnold on the box-office map as a truly bankable star able to carry multiple genres. While many love to rip Arnold for being a bad actor, I prefer to pump him up with words like hilarious, excellent and charming. He really was born to be on-screen. I’m sure his heart was filled with happiness at achieving his acting dreams on such a large scale, and that feeling of pure infectious joy is evident in the silly smile that covers his face throughout nearly the entire runtime of Twins.

But like I mentioned, it’s not all about Arnold. Danny DeVito brings the perfect yang to Arnold’s yin; by the end of the film, not only did I believe that they were twins separated at birth, I actually wanted it to be true. They are a perfect comedy team here, so I’m definitely looking forward to my re-watch of Junior (in which they both star and re-team with director Ivan Reitman) whenever I get down to that one. The two female leads (Chole Webb & Kelly Preston) are equally important to the mix, adding additional moments of tenderness and comedy in a film full of them. Chole Webb is especially charming, and I can’t believe I never realized how flat-out gorgeous Kelly Preston is. Her character is little more than a pretty face for Arnold to fall for, but I suppose that’s to be expected in a film like this which feels like it’s aimed predominantly at men. Which, you could argue, is the problem with most Hollywood pictures, if you want to get technical.

twins_3Other than the general likeability of the actors and the situations the film puts them into, it’s hard to come up with exactly why I enjoyed Twins as much as I did. The premise is superb, and the theme of reconnecting and creating family is handled well, pulling the right heartstrings whenever it should. Really, that should be enough for a movie to be recommended on, no? What else do you need? Arnold sings Yakety Yak, drives a car on two wheels AND his twin brother is Danny DeVito? You had me at Arnold.

Twins is definitely a dated film. Everything about it, from its outlandish premise to its lighthearted fun attitude towards violence, absolutely oozes of the 1980s. For some, this will make Twins a grueling experience that will likely cause them to agree with Arnold’s character, Julius, when he chastises his twin brother Vincent for having “no respect for logic.” That may be true, but to enjoy films like this it takes a different kind of respect… a respect for ’80s logic. Trust me, not only will it help you enjoy some of the most downright entertaining movies ever made, it just might change your life. OK, OK, I got a little wrapped up in the mood of the 1980s, where cheap entertainment always came with a side of heart, but it’s true. Embrace the power of simple entertainment. Reconnect with the childlike joy you once experienced, when plot holes went over your head and your reflexes were never fast enough to even notice them (let alone catch them). Twins may not be a great movie, but it’s damn fine entertainment. And really, that’s all that matters.

With Twins in the bag, the ’80s are complete for Arnold! Next up in this chronological journey through the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger is Total Recall, blasting us into the ’90s! See ya then!

4 comments to Twins (1988)

  • Hey will,
    Great review! You brought up so many valid points. If I touch on all of the points, I’ll be writing a review of the review hahaha!
    One of the most valid points was when you brought up the “tenderness” of the characters. You know I am a passionate fan of the 80’s. Tenderness, endearment, and sentiment are always what comes to mind when I even hear a title of one of my favorite movies. Twins is one of my top 15 (and the list is huge) movies. It is everything you mentioned and all of the feelings in between.
    This movie is not about great acting. It however makes you feel good. There is so much more value in how you feel while and after watching a movie. This movie makes me feel young. It makes me want to snuggle with my kids and eat a bunch of junk food like I use to when I watched it with my mom, brothers, and sisters. Kelly Preston is indeed gorgeous. She has always been in movies like this one, but never completely broke out main stream. She is also in another one of my Top 15 movies with John Travolta. It’s called “The Experts”. I agree that this movie started a new path for Arnold too. He went on to make Kindergarten cop, True Lies, and my kids favorite, Junior. All of these movies are similiar in sentiment.
    Ironically, Schwarzneggar, DeVito, and Preston are on my Top 15 list at least 5 times.
    You hit on all the important reasons why this movie is great…acting be damn!!!!

    • Thanks, Syreeta! I had no idea how much you loved Twins! I was surprised by how much i enjoyed it. I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid, so I wasn’t expecting much.

      There really is a lot of value in the feelings that movies fill you with. People get too caught up in feeling bad about liking something perceived as “bad” when they should just allow a fun movie to be what it is. That’s why I never use the term Guilty Pleasure, because I don’t believe in feeling guilty over a movie. If you like it, like it and own up to it!

      I’ll have to look out for The Experts, sound like fun!

  • Great review and although I have not seen this since it came out I think I would also still enjoy it. That’s the thing with movies of this era…if you grew up watching them you know that even though they aged you still will be able to get the same joy out of them as when they came out. So what do you think about the sequel that’s in the works with a third brother being played by Eddie Murphy?

    • Thanks! Growing up with ’80s movies is a privilege I’m so happy to have had. The best decade of films, or at least the most fun! Definitely give Twins a re-watch, it’s a lot of fun and rather charming as well. I’m not super optimistic about the sequel (like any sequel with such a large time gap between them), but I love Arnold, DeVito and Murphy so hopefully it’ll be fun.

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