Archive for August, 2010

Movie review [chat] – Twins (1988)

Twins (1988)

Directed by Ivan Reitman. Starring Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Maury Chaykin.

The first thing that is apparent is that Danny DeVito was taking the opportunity to give a real, fully-formed, film performance. He plays an oversize character that somehow, due to the structure and balance of the movie, tone down the high-comedy and keep the whole thing real. By all rights, movie history should tell us that DeVito’s performance in Twins was nominated for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor (rather than a nomination in the leading actor category, in one of those Academy maneuvers). He wasn’t, it doesn’t. Shame.

The movie has a creepy premise. It purports that the United States was running a secret government eugenics program to create the uber-human. Eugenics?! Isn’t that kind of a Na-… I won’t say it. But I thought it. How can you not think it?

That it’s supposedly at Los Alamos is hilarious, though; and not intentionally. It’s like they’re saying the Super Bowl is played at Wrigley Field.

So the secret program combines the sperm of 6 men of exceptional qualities, making a sauce out of them, and jimmying up Heather Graham with the genetic cocktail. Out come two babies: Julius and Vincent. Both are spirited away. The mother is told she had one baby, but that it was stillborn. Vincent is sent, anonymously, to an orphanage in Los Angeles. Julius, the super-baby, is raised on an island in the South Pacific by one of the program’s scientists. The laboratory is closed and locked. Time passes.

The moment Julius learns that he has a twin brother, he sets out to find him. Naive, book-learned, hulkishly strong Julius quickly tracks him down, only to become embroiled in Vincent’s troubled life. Everything comes out right in the end, and there’s a happy Hollywood ending.

You know, this would be a good start to a science fiction novel, where eventually it turns out that Julius is the evil one (he has no morals, only programming) and Vincent is the good one, and the story continues for these characters through the twists and turns of time and fate.

Instead, it’s just this one relic from an era of Hollywood that had strange, strange values. Or rather, it was reflecting some strange values already present in the culture. You can learn a lot from an era’s movies, if you look at them in the right way.

[movie]/01 Rob says, “hmm I just watched Twins”
[movie]/02 Rob says, “never saw it ever before”
[movie]/03 Rob says, “man, reagan-era high concept hollywood movies”
[movie]/04 Rob says, “heather graham, surprisingly, years before I would have otherwise said she appeared in anything”
[movie]/05 Rob says, “good performances, gaping plot holes they tried to spackle over with the occasional line of dialogue”
[movie]/06 Rob says, “but which at least shows that somebody went ‘hey, this doesn’t make sense that these characters would know to be here, what’s up with that? how do we fix that?'”
[movie]/07 Rob says, “scenes that seem obviously to be the kinds of scenes that come from quick reshoots after the first audience reaction cards come in”
[movie]/08 Rob says, “two pairs of writers credited for the script, out of no doubt dozens more uncredited work on the stew”
[movie]/09 Rob says, “strange insertion in the last 20 minutes of the movie of a corsican-brothers connection between the two, which doesn’t make any sense and doesn’t help anything, and suggests to me that it was a big part of someone’s earlier draft, that got whittled out and out and out until this vestige remained that nobody bothered to get rid of”
[movie]/10 Ellison says, “whoa, Heather Graham”
[movie]/11 Rob says, “yeah she’s there in a wordless 20 second cameo in the first minute of the movie as the young version of the twins’ mother”

No Comments