Monday, May 30, 2011

Horrible Non-Horror! Junior

Junior is the movie about Arnold Schwarzenegger getting pregnant. And I am 29 years old and have somehow never seen it.

Life, what the hell are you?
Did I mention it’s directed by Ivan Reitman and costars Danny DeVito? Meaning, of course, Junior is brought to us by the same golden trio that gave us the wonders of the comedy classic, Twins!*
*Truth: I haven’t seen Twins since its theatrical run in 1988. I recall two things about it: 
1-Ahnahld loudly singing “Yackety Yack” on an airplane and me doing the same whenever the moment calls for it

2-It being hilarious
Also, I was six and a great judge of cinema. Which means Junior couldn’t miss, right?
Quick Plot: Meet Dr. Alex Hesse, a bland scientist on the brink of discovering new fertility treatments with his partner, Dr. Larry Arbogast. After a failed proposal with the uptight FDA and firing from Frank Langella (playing, essentially, the same role he previously mastered in Reitman’s Dave), the pair decide to go rogue and impregnate Hesse for further experimentation while they seek new funding. Toss in Emma Thompson as a sympathetic and clumsy fellow researcher, Pamela Reed (Arnie’s unlucky partner in that other gem, Kindergarden Cop) as DeVito’s ex-wife pregnant with someone involved with Aeorsmith’s baby, and a whole lot of jokes about how crazy women are and bam! A classic is born.

Oh I could continue with the scientific details so adorably skirted over, but considering the very first scene of Junior involves an infant peeing all over Ahhnahhld, do you really care?
Yup, Junior is a film clearly written and financed for the sole purpose of being able to sell it with the simple premise “Arnold Schwarzenegger gets pregnant.” Really, there’s little else you need since the following tricks are clearly going to write themselves:
-Ahhnahld in drag, which naturally means a lot of pink (because that’s what women ear, right?)

-Gay jokes (impressively restrained until the film’s second hour)

-Ahhnahld acting like SUCH a woman by eating pickles, constantly holding his belly, vomiting, crying over commercials, and complaining about how his partner comes home late after he slaves over a pot of spaghetti
There’s not an easy joke Junior doesn’t deliver (ba dom bomp!) but I don’t know that we’re supposed to expect much more. I mean, not EVERY comedy can be Twins, right?
High Points
Emma Thompson may very well be a goddess among women. Saddled with the love interest role as a clumsy scientist, she’s introduced with terrible slapstick yet somehow emerges a wonderful and sunny presence in the film. I laughed from a real place with her pitch perfect delivery of the best come-on in cinema history: 

“Call me old fashioned but I’ll be damned if I’m having a child with a man i’ve never slept with!”
Also, the movie has cute monkey babies! Cute monkey babies!

Random Sightings
That’s Aida 'Janice Soprano' Turturro as DeVito’s assistant, James 'Brenda & Brandon’s Dad' Eckhouse as a fellow doctor, and a gloriously mulleted Chris Meloni as an expectant father

Cringeworthy Moments
“Strong swimmers. Big load. Way to go!”
Three sentences I don’t ever want to hear come out of the mouth of Danny DeVito

I’ve gone on record as saying the nurse slaying in The Exorcist III is easily one of the most terrifying minutes in cinema history. This is true, but you know what’s truer? The fact that this is scarier (as witnessed by the man who posted's reaction: 

Ahhnahld uttering, with far too much conviction, “My body. My choice!”
And just when you think it’s safe and the film has reached its HOUR AND FORTY NINE MINUTE MARK, Ahhnahld eats birthday cake off his toddler’s bare foot
Lessons Learned
In order to make a muscle man appear intelligent, give him glasses and scenes set in a library. It might also help to teach him how to hold books, but we as an audience shouldn’t be so greedy
Steifan is Austrian for something Danny DeVito gets all the time
Any movie made in the ‘90s that featured pregnancy as a major plot point was required to culminate in multiple babies being frantically born on the same stressful evening (see Father of the Bride Part 2, Nine Months)

In true honesty, Junior wasn’t quite as awful as I feared/expected/hoped. Yes, clearly there were moments that will have me giggling until SkyNet becomes self-aware, but Reitman isn’t incompetent, Thompson is a pleasure, DeVito does his thang, and Schwarzenegger’s presence is entertaining in itself. As an instant watch on an in-need-of-a-laugh day, one could do far worse. Most of the humor is at the expense of the film rather than because of it, and isn’t that what we  need more of in life?

And just to end things right, here.


  1. My favorite Twins factoid is that the Schwarzenegger movie had to buy the title from a different movie, which was then renamed Dead Ringers. Yeah, *that* Dead Ringers. Imagine if both movies had used the same title, and when you talked about Twins you had to specify whether you meant Twins, the Schwarzenegger/DeVito comedy or Twins, the Cronenberg film with Jeremy Irons as creepy twin gynecologists. /head asplode

  2. That's also a mashup just DYING to happen! Also weird that both feature unique gynecology in one form or another. What's weirder is that I'll never be able to watch Dead Ringers again without now imagining Jeremy Irons screaming Yakety Yak...

  3. I would put down hard cash to see David Cronenberg remake Junior, even if the finished result would scar me for life and leave me a basket-case hermit!

  4. I think the finished product, particularly if it retained its cast, could easily summon the actual rapture. But damnit, it's SO worth it. Letter campaign!

  5. Awesome review!

    I didn't find myself laughing at all with this one. It felt much more like a drama. I couldn't help but make the Twins connection myself.

    I agree - that was a hysterical movie. One my mother tapped so we could watch it every weekend not shortly after its 'new car' smell began to wear off.

    Junior to me a an easy sell to the market and played it completely safe again, with providing obvious quips (and it doesn't take much for me to laugh).

    While a Cronenberg-make would be amazing... no apprehensions, it might be the very thing to cool off overpopulation!

  6. What inspired this post, Emily? Ah-huld's
    recent revelations...haha.

    No seriously - as much as I love Twins, the stars never aligned for me to watch Junior. Actually, I heard enough bad things about it not to waste my time, but as an Arnold completest, I should seek it out. Oh and that clip is creepy, but that Exorcist 3 moment still reigns supreme.

  7. Ashlee: The humor is as predictable and easy as it comes, though that in itself amused me. As soon as the baby peed on Ahnuld in THE OPENING SCENE, I knew I'd just have to chug that beer and pull through.

    Oh, and you're making me realize that I REALLY need to rewatch Twins, followed by Dead Ringers so I can fall asleep and enjoy a mashup nightmare.

    I ain't JUST about the trends Geof! I've had Junior on my queue since I first got Netflix because that's how I roll, so once it hit Instant Watch it was only a matter of time (made all the more timely due to Ahnuld's extracurricular activities, of course). I'll put the clip up there with The Exorcist 3, Magic head kill and Tourist Trap plastering as a scene that makes me simply squirm and scream for its entire (thankfully brief!) duration.

  8. Good other choices =) Where does Sleepaway Camp's final, umm, reveal, rank? That one has always gotten under my skin. It calmed down a bit after I met Felissa Rose, but it is still unnerving.

  9. See, the problem was that as long as I knew anything about Sleepaway Camp, I knew about the reveal. I sadly never had that chance to go WHAAAAAAAAAAAAH? Big deep sigh...