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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Twins (1988)
(2020 Reissue)


Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito , Kelly Preston, Chloe Webb, Trey Wilson, David Caruso, Hugh O’Brian, Nehemiah Persoff and Jeff Beck
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 12 October 2020

In these days of endless tension and concern why not see if laughter is possible?

Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters – the good one not the dung heap one; Legal Eagles, Dave, Junior) believes it is possible and finds laughter in the oddest places. For what was an insidious medical experiment in the potboiler Boys From Brazil (1978) wherein post Reich scientists are breeding little boys from the genetic rib-scrapings of you know who so they can grow up and do you know what, Reitman makes his comedic launch.

Here he does a story where a genetic experiment product Julius Benedict seeks to reunite with his long lost splice twin, Vincent, a petty scam artist. Julius is a genius, warm, affirming, idealistic and loving. Vincent, a chiseller, is sneaky, cynical and unloving because he’s basically a rat who doesn’t love himself. To look on the bright side of life is Julius’ gift to Vincent, to take what he can and run is Vincent’s sermon of reality to Julius. This inner and outer oppositional skirmish is the test site for each brother, to see if they can find learning and growth from each other.

Such hearts and flowers gushiness would have been zombified in lesser hands. Schwarzenegger was leary of trying comedy especially with a comedic giant like DeVito. He was referred to no less than Milton Berle for tutoring and that master of the art was his Yoda. It worked. The Terminator, DeVito and Reitman all agreed to be paid out of profits. Their up front fees must have been little more than scale so the risky production could be delivered on a Wal-Mart budget, probably no more than $12 million. Sometimes it pays to risk up front. Schwarzenegger’s take home was $35 million from a $216 million world wide gross before home entertainment editions kicked in. It was the most he’s ever earned from a movie.

The quest to find their fathers (there are six) leads to a crisis for Vincent. He feels he’s been adjudicated as genetic garbage. Julius won’t have it. To him, they each fill a void in the other’s life, he vows, in a twin’s sixth sense of knowing. The new bonding enables Vincent to give to Julius: cool fashion, (cool by his standards); the critical insight that disco is dead (wisdom), how to sweep a woman off her feet on the dance floor and how to conquer his virginity. Brother is enriching brother. For comedy to work it must have a human theme of truth.

There are crimes, criminals and intrigue. Vincent is in over his head with criminal enemies he doesn’t even know he has. Marshal Bell’s Webster is the ultimate cold blooded killer shark. The intermediate criminals are ruthless but the twins come out on top with each threat and lessons are learned from the unflappably zen Julius on how to deal with violent approaches. But we know the intermediate butthole criminals are preparing us for Webster.

The twins hunt for their mother. Sounds mawkish but it’s not. It works. Reitman loads each scene with little and big details that lure you along. It’s the work of a master. He knows comedy is laughter to sadness and back again. It’s that pendulum swing that keeps us identifying and being interested.

The Blu-ray, though without extras, is pristine with razor sharp depth, resolution and audio coloratura worthy of the Jeff Beck theme song and his intoxicating lead guitar in the credit rollup. It’s good Beck but then all Beck is good.

My favourite of many scenes is the denouement where both twins, reunited by their brotherly sixth sense, are about to be offed by Webster. Arnold reminds Webster he’s forgotten the third rule of conflict. Something happens. (No spoiler moi for one of the funniest punchlines in movies): “Now there’s a man who’s got a lot on his mind” observes Vincent. Yes, indeed, and the burden borne by Julius and Vincent is lifted, inside and outside. A feelgood film. So sue me.


John Huff

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