Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Junior (1994)
(2020 Reissue)


Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson, Frank Langella, Welker White, Lawrence Tierney, Tracey Walter and Judy Collins
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99


Certificate: PG
Release Date: 05 October 2020

Mega-watt director Ivan Reitman felt this was a worthy successor to his first two highly popular Arnold Schwarzenegger comedies (read that: worldwide grosses on steroids). Kindergarten Cop (1990) and Twins (1988) which with Schwarzenegger’s astute opting for profit points, proved to be the most lucrative for the star in his entire career, netted him $35 million to bench press.

But this time around, Reitman’s sixth sense advised him to produce and not direct. Schwarzenegger’s gut sense was not to do the picture unless Reitman helmed - but this time take a hefty pay check (probably $15-20 million) up front and not wait for a share of profits. His business instinct proved superior because this skinny member of the Reitman troika is still scuba diving in red ink and will never see black unless extra terrestrials distribute it in multiple dimensions. And they’ve probably already done that.

What could go wrong? Assault Arnold’s supreme image of rugged manhood with transcendent understanding of what it means to be a woman. Comedy is a conflict of oppositions to derive bathos and not pathos, right? Surround Arnold with a phalanx of acting and comedy talent, who will midwife his expected terseness and monochromatic solemnity and deliver us a parthenogenic comedy. With Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson and Frank Langella (one of the best “eye” actors in the trade) doing the heavy lifting, it would be a sure fire hit. Not. One can ponder why it didn’t achieve popularity proportions of its predecessors but the time would be better spent taking up dulcimer lessons or wood whittling.

Why did Schwarzenegger say yes? Reitman had made him more money in movies than anybody else and, this is crucial, he liked Reitman. Liking who you work with is night and day in the movie business. Full of insecurities, trapdoors, phony enthusiasm, the up front atta’ boys for a diesel-powered star are never ever remembered if his engine has flipped its cars off the tracks like a kid’s toy and he, the superchief who pulled the goddamned thing, is now lambasted as the tired old engine that couldn’t. Success a thousand parents has, failure only one. Arnold played this game well. And since then has restricted his laughs to safe robotic self parody.

Emma Thompson as Dr Diana Reddin gets to show off her rarely applied talent for physical pratfall comedy. In an early stupendous runaway cart stunt, ending up on top of taciturn Dr Hesse. When Thompson clumsily gets up, it’s by obliviously standing squarely on his groin. I think Arnold’s throbbing neck veins and red face indicate this was more than method acting. Reddin is already ditzy but more than a bit feckless when she’s in the presence of Arnold’s Dr. Alex Hesse. She doesn’t know it but it is her egg Devito’s Dr Larry Arbogast has chosen, for Hesse, to fecundate life in Hesse’s abdominal cavity.

Hesse: “I must be crazy to be doing this.”

When Arbogast sees the urine sample turn blue he grins triumphantly.

Arbogast: “You may be crazy but you’re also pregnant. Congratulations.”

Soon Arbogast gets nervous over things like broken laws (they’re not Deutschland doctors in South American jungle labs after all) and medical delicensing - what with villainous medical administrator Frank Langella breathing down his neck - and wants to “stop” the baby in its first trimester. His semantic hopscotch explanation for abortion is simple and nice without ever tip toeing to the word. Here’s where Junior begins taunting controversy and having fun. Abortion is never mentioned, least of all full term abortion where the infant dies outside the womb. Hesse won’t hear of it. It’s too late. Scientific convenience be damned. He has become attached (the word “connected” reoccurs) and adamantly wants to keep Junior. The old feminist saw: “If men could have babies, abortion would be a sacrament,” is laughed at in the name of relational existence. One can see right here why a lot of political kneejerk supporters of individual rights decided to pass this movie by. A comedy about a pregnant man feeling connected to the baby he’s carrying. Come on, let’s get back to safe territory where Arnold just kills people.

Nobody in the university laboratory knows about Hesse’s secret nymph. But he begins displaying all the traditional female symptoms before Reddin and the rest of the women. They’re perplexed. If he wasn’t a man, they joke, they’d think he was preggies: Morning sickness, nipple sensitivity, cramps, loss of bodily control, crying over family movies, sensitivity over being left alone, appetite binges and good old hot flashes.

Then comes a show-stopping moment. In a dream, Dr. Hesse is greeted with his newborn infant, low and behold its face is a little CGI Arnold face. So, in later years when the real life Arnold would confess to his (then) wife Maria Shriver, mother of their four children, that their housekeeper Mildred Baena’s son, Joseph, was also his secret son, one can’t help be amazed. As I’ve looked at childhood pictures of Joseph smiling with his half brother and sister siblings, I had to ask how could the the family, including the perceptive Shriver, daughter of Sargent Shriver and Kennedy relative, be so clueless to the physiognomy? Helen Keller couldn’t miss it, how could they? The little Arnold-faced squaller in Junior is an ironic prescience of what was coming down the tracks for Schwarzenegger.

Let it be said, that Schwarzenegger manned up to make amends (one of the biggest divorce settlements in human history) to his former wife and children and has raised and supported Joseph. He is a model of relational repair and responsibility. If all men took responsibility like he did, the world would be a better place (

That said, this moment in Junior, is as freaky as all get out. In retrospect, I’m sure there are as many reactions to it as there are people whenever it pops up. If nothing else Junior is an ironic diary chapter for what was already one of the most singular careers in Hollywood history.

The comedic timing, both patois and pratfall, is Swiss watch perfect. The woven narrative delivers payoffs major and minor. The traditional score by James Newton Howard is what people call Mickey Mouse soundtrack theory, in that, like a Mouse cartoon, the music semaphores exactly the emotion you should be thinking, programmatic empathy. It’s all done with professional elan. Extras provide interviews with the major players.

Do I like the movie? More than I thought I would, being one of the droves who stayed away and never rented it. The Fabulous / Freemantle image is sharp, defined and dermatologically truthful with colour resolution always easy on the eye. Technically, this is an epitome of 20th century studio industrial art.


John Huff

Buy this item online