Julius Benedict (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has enjoyed what might be described as a sheltered upbringing, for he was part of a pioneering experiment to design the perfect man. He had six fathers, all of whom contributed brains and physical fitness to his biological makeup, so that now, at age thirty-five, he is an ideal - yet has only known the life on his tropical South Pacific island he has lived on for all of those years with the doctor who performed the experiment. He has never wondered about the outside world until now, because he has just been told he has a twin he never knew... he must find him!
In 1988 two blockbusters on similar themes were released by Hollywood, one marginally more palatable than the other. The lesser was Rain Man, a treacly actor's showcase with a heavy dose of patronising attitude towards the autistic, so the better bet was Twins, which had the same grown up brothers meeting in adulthood theme, both very different yet finding common ground and feeling the benefit for getting to know each other. At least Twins didn't pretend to be anything other than idiotic in its premise, and the supreme confidence with which it presented itself was far to its benefit.
So much so that it was one of the biggest hits of the year, and being so eighties that it hurts has enjoyed a favourable following since, providing uncomplicated entertainment for its nostalgic fans. The very epitome of the high concept movie of its era, so simple was its basic idea that you could look at the poster and know exactly what you were going to get and be exactly right in that assessment. The poster showed Schwarzenegger and co-star Danny DeVito looking insouciant and cheery under the title, and, I know you were laughing even before you saw the film, weren't you?
Well, weren't you? For Twins is also the very epitome of the one joke movie, and once director Ivan Reitman and his team of writers have told it, they get pretty stuck with what to do next. Julius learns about Vincent (DeVito), who always believed his mother abandoned him in an orphanage, and as a result has become a career petty criminal - this film leans very heavily on the nurture side of the nature/nurture divide. Once Julius tracks him down, he cannot persuade him he is his twin brother, but nevertheless comes in handy when scaring off the gangsters Vincent owes thousands of dollars to.
Eventually Vince accepts this new arrival in his life as his kin, and in utterly predictable and saccharine fashion he begins to change his ways and become a better person. Like Rain Man, this turns into a road movie with the brothers accompanied on their trip to track down mom by two sisters, Marnie (Kelly Preston) who likes Julius, and Linda (Chloe Webb) who likes Vincent. Along the way the naive musclebound genius learns about the real world, loses his virginity to the more attractive sister, and performs in possibly the worst dance routine of all time, complete with arse-grabbing and pelvic thrusting. Still the film is confused about bolting on a proper story so they forget about the science fiction possibilities aside from a little light E.S.P. and have us sit through a wholly perfunctory thriller plot. For all its fatuity, it's effortlessly easy to watch, and does look as if it was about as easy to make. Music by Georges Delerue and Randy Edelman.