Director/Producer – Ivan Reitman, Screenplay – Chris Conrad & Kerwin Wade, Photography – Adam Greenberg, Music – James Newton Howard, Visual Effects – Buena Vista Visual Effects (Supervisor – Peter Montgomery), Special Effects Supervisor – David M. Blitstein, Makeup/Prosthetic Effects – Matthew W. Mungle, Production Design– Stephen Lineweaver. Production Company – Northern Lights.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Dr Alexander Hess), Danny DeVito (Dr Lawrence Arbogast), Emma Thompson (Dr Diana Reddin), Frank Langella (Noah Baines), Pamela Reed (Angela)
Bio-researcher Dr Alexander Hess and fertility specialist Dr Larry Arbogast have pioneered a drug that they call Expectane, which enhances fertility. However, the FDA turns down approval for testing and the smarmy university laboratory director drops Alex’s tenure. Larry then persuades Alex to engage in an illegal experiment by testing the drug on a man – that Alex make himself pregnant.
Twins (1988) was a big success. It centred around and obtained an enormous amount of comic appeal out of the idea of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as mismatched twins. Junior re-pairs Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito and Twins director Ivan Reitman. In fact, many members of the press took Junior to be the sequel to Twins, which had been bandied around as an idea. While Junior is not an actual sequel to Twins, it is at least one in spirit. Besides bringing back the same team that made the first film, Junior similarly pokes gentle fun at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s macho action image and also involves a theme set around medical experimentation.
If Junior comes off enjoyably but less than Twins, it is because it never does the thing that made Twins so enjoyable – the job of acting as a warm feelgood film with its tongue half planted in its cheek. It has some occasionally heart-warming moments but it needed to make more out of its two buddies having a baby joke. However, it backs off from this with symbolic obviousness – right at the moment it makes a joke about the two being mistaken for a gay couple.
The man having a baby thing has been done before – see the Spanish comedy The Unusual Pregnancy of Martinez (1974) and the Joan Rivers directed Rabbit Test (1978) – but Junior at least rehashes the jokes amiably. There are some amusing scenes with the pregnant Arnold Schwarzenegger developing ‘a glow’, going to Lamaze classes, posing as a woman etc. One entire scene is elaborately set up to allow Arnold Schwarzenegger to come out with the line, “It’s my body, it’s my baby.”
If Twins was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film, then Junior belongs to Danny DeVito, despite the fact the two of them play essentially the same roles as before – DeVito the wily trickster, Schwarzenegger the straight man. The reason is that Schwarzenegger seems uncommonly subdued throughout, undoubtedly due to his having to appear in designer glasses and play an emotional cold fish.
Where Schwarzenegger does shine is when he is paired up with Emma Thompson who plays her part with a woolly eccentricity and the unheeding walking disaster area of a Peter Sellers. The two of them make for a most delightful odd couple pairing and some of their scenes, like when they stumble across a dance-floor, are charming.
Ivan Reitman’s other genre films as director are:- Cannibal Girls (1973); Ghostbusters (1984); Twins (1988); Ghostbusters II (1989); the alien invasion comedy Evolution (2001); and My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006). Reitman also produced David Cronenberg’s first two commercial successes Shivers/They Came from Within/The Parasite Murders (1976) and Rabid (1977), the revenge and brutality film Death Weekend/The House By the Lake (1976), the animated Heavy Metal (1981), the space opera Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), Space Jam (1996) featuring Michael Jordan taking on Warner Brothers cartoon characters, the animated tv series Mummies Alive! The Legend Begins (1998), the psycho-thriller Disturbia (2007), the ghost story The Uninvited (2009), Hitchcock (2012), Ghostbusters (2016), A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting (2020), Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) and Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021).