(1988)3John L. MessinaIn Twins, Arnold Schwarzenegger tries his hand at straight comedy for the first time and surprises with a very funny performance. Perhaps it's not too surprising, given how Schwarzenegger wisecracked his way through action movies, but with Twins he proves he can do full-fledged comedy. While Schwarzenegger often plays the straight man for co-star Danny De Vito, he also has his own moments, highlighted by a hilarious facial expression he offers after his Julius Benedict character experiences sex for the first time. Just the sight of Schwarzenegger in short pants and Chuck Taylor All-Stars is funny enough, but he also supplies plenty of charm and comic timing. In retrospect, it could have been beginner's luck, as Schwarzenegger failed to recapture the magic in subsequent comedies like Junior. Twins is essentially a one-joke movie, a running gag playing off the physical differences between Schwarzenegger and De Vito. It works, though, because the pair have good chemistry. There's a true brotherly feeling between them that makes the comedy seem less manipulated. Sometimes, though, the sweetness strays into treacly sentimentality; Twins suffers most when it strays from its one joke. An unfortunate gangster subplot gives Schwarzenegger an excuse to do some action toward the end, but it spoils the joy of seeing him do comedy. Fortunately, director Ivan Reitman keeps it from getting out of hand, allowing the movie to stay reasonably consistent in its gentle tone through the end. Reitman operates in his usual style -- pleasantly funny, but not especially inventive. Playing the stars' love interests, Chloe Webb and Kelly Preston are charming and witty comedic foils. Incidentally, an 18-year-old Heather Graham made one of her first big-screen appearances in the uncredited, nonspeaking role of the twins' young mother.
The central "gimmick" of the comedy-adventure Twins is established early on. Unbeknownst to one another, king-sized Arnold Schwarzenegger and gnomeish Danny De Vito are twin brothers. Even better: Schwarzenegger is a mild-mannered, bookish type, while De Vito is a vitriolic troublemaker. The film takes satiric jabs at the notion of "perfect" genetics, and makes several pointed comments concerning the dangers of youthful pre-conditioning by insensitive parents.