Junior (1994)

junior_2Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson, Pamela Reed, Frank Langella, Aida Turturro, James Eckhouse, Megan Cavanagh, Welker White, Kathleen Chalfant

Directed by Ivan Reitman

Expectations: Low, but I’m excited to revisit.

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Certain films require an audience to suspend their disbelief in order for them to work, and this is probably the biggest hurdle that any viewer of Junior is going to face. The idea of a pregnant man is simply preposterous; there’s no way that the film can logically make you believe it’s possible. The explanations given in the film don’t help either, as even the simplest passing thought can deconstruct the film’s basic premise. So any viewer of Junior is asked to choose whether they will buy into the concept and just roll with it, or if they will reject it as patently absurd.

There was a time when I refused to watch Junior. It took five or six years after it came out before I was willing to see my #1 movie hero emotional and knocked up. Even then I went in with a furrowed brow and crossed arms, basically ensuring that I was going to hate it. And I did. In the intervening 15 or so years those hard edges of my film-loving personality have naturally worn down a bit, and now I realize movies are ultimately trivial, no matter how passionate I am about them (then or now). So going into Junior this time, I was actually excited.

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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.

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Batman Returns (1992)

Starring Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Michael Murphy, Cristi Conaway, Andrew Bryniarski, Pat Hingle, Vincent Schiavelli, Steve Witting, Jan Hooks

Directed by Tim Burton

Expectations: Moderate. The last time I saw this, it wasn’t all that hot.


Batman Returns is proof positive that bigger is not always better. I’m sure there are people out there that thoroughly enjoy this one, but I found it overlong, stupid and without much of the charm of the original. There’s a lot of potential here for a good Batman movie, but therein lies my biggest problem with Batman Returns: it’s not a Batman movie, it’s a Penguin movie. If they wanted to title it correctly they’d have gone with something like Penguin Begins or The Dark Penguin Rises, or perhaps they could have gone completely obvious and went with Penguin and Catwoman.

Batman Returns opens with Paul Reubens and his wife, disgruntled with their flipper-handed infant. They decide to throw him off a bridge, thus giving rise to the most annoying Batman villain ever to make it on-screen. I’ve never been a Penguin fan, and this fucking movie isn’t doing him any favors. There’s also the Catwoman’s origin as a sub-plot and Batman’s literally just along for the ride. Michael Keaton probably had no more than twenty lines in the entire movie… give or take a few.

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Throw Momma From the Train (1987)

Starring Danny DeVito, Billy Crystal, Kim Greist, Anne Ramsey, Kate Mulgrew, Branford Marsalis, Rob Reiner, Bruce Kirby, Joey DePinto, Annie Ross

Directed by Danny DeVito

Expectations: Low. One of those 80s movies I’ve never seen that could go either way.


Throw Momma From the Train has a lot of interesting aspects, but in the end they don’t add up to a wholly satisfying movie. As with all 80s films, some of this is pleasantly explained away with the “only in the 80s” mantra, but to dismiss all of the film’s faults with this argument would far too forgiving. To focus solely on the faults would also be a mistake, as the film does do a good job of entertaining. I don’t know, it’s a weird one for sure, and some of my strange feelings can be traced back to my knowledge of the film prior to watching it.

This is one of those 80s movies I never saw back in the day, but I heard and saw a lot about it upon its release. Between regular trips down the video store aisles to Anne Ramsey’s Oscar nomination, this film was seemingly everywhere in my young world. I remember my parents refusing to watch it (or maybe it was refusing to let me watch it), but there was something about that video box (and the whole forbidden fruit mentality that arose because of their restriction) that made me want to watch the film. Enjoying Billy Crystal and Danny DeVito helps too. Flash forward twenty-five years and I have finally realized this dream of youth. That mysterious film with the two guys sitting on the train tracks is no longer in the gigantic “To Watch” pile of my mind.

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