In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comedic debut he plays Julius Benedict, a genetically superior superhuman, who discovers his long-lost twin (Danny DeVito) made from all the genes that were left over. His SS officer father would be proud.
Twins is yet another case of Arnie being unable to play a supposedly intelligent person. Jules is formed from the seed of six remarkable men (although evidently none had singing ability) and is meant to have mental as well as physical excellence. But Superman feels like a simpleton, not understanding metaphor and unable to pick things up from context.
This isn’t helped by the reliance on fish-out-of-water comedy (Jules was raised on a remote island) leaving supposed dunce Vince feeling the like the clever one. Incidentally the pair share names with John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman duo in Pulp Fiction. I’ve been unable to work out why, but it could be something to do with DeVito executive producing Tarantino’s film.
Like later Schwarzenegger/DeVito/Reitman collaboration Junior, Twins is based on a simple gag, but gets more jokes in the first minute than Junior manages in the entire film. That’s not to say it’s a laugh riot – there are vast stretches without any jokes at all – it’s more a testament to what a gaping void of comedy Junior is.
The other thing it has which Junior lacks is a plot in which some stuff happens. It follows the pair as they try to uncover the truth about their origins (Three Identical Strangers style), but is fleshed out by a mobster sub-plot which is a staple of comedies of the era (Desperately Seeking Susan, Three Men and a Baby, Kindergarten Cop, Last Action Hero, Sister Act). This makes about as little sense as the main story, but presumably not as little sense as the planned sequel with Eddie Murphy (Triplets) is bound to. Because the opposite of a superman and a goblin is… a black guy?
The lead duo give reasonably committed performances with the mediocre material, earning them both their biggest paycheck ever after negotiating 20% of the gross. Its success also launched Arnie’s career in comedy, for
better or worse. But the lack of laughs make this DNA comedy DOA.