‘Junior’ (PG-13)By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 25, 1994
Arnold Schwarzenegger has two essential roles. He’s either a superhuman or the thickly accented ingredient in a wacky Hollywood scheme: What if Arnold went undercover in a kindergarten? What if Arnold and Danny DeVito were twins separated at birth? But as with politics, the resulting comedy is often a flat follow-up to the advertising campaign.
“Junior,” costarring DeVito and Emma Thompson, and directed by Ivan Reitman, is no exception. In case you’ve missed the barrage of promotion—and thank the Lord they finally rescued you from that caving accident—Schwarzenegger becomes pregnant. A genetic researcher who has failed to get FDA approval for Expectane, his new drug for healthy pregnancies, Schwarzenegger says goodbye to his lab monkeys, his gynecologist-partner DeVito and his dream. Just before he takes the plane back to homeland Austria, DeVito has an idea.
“Who says we need a woman?” he says, looking directly at Schwarzenegger. “Are you allergic to anything?”
After the requisite knee-jerk protestations, Schwarzenegger agrees to impregnate himself. All they need now is a human egg. It so happens that Thompson, a klutzy, cryogenics expert who’s been freezing human eggs, has taken over Schwarzenegger’s vacated lab. She recently “met” Schwarzenegger when her egg incubator went out of control on a ramp and smashed right into him. DeVito steals one of the eggs, fertilizes it with Schwarzenegger’s Ubersperm, pops it into Schwarzenegger, and another wacky Arnold movie is born.
Time for the whole nine yards—or months—as Der Big Lug experiences morning sickness and mood swings, feels cramps, gets sensitive nipples and watches his stomach extend to its furthest reaches. Because the experiment is illegal, Schwarzenegger has to keep his condition a secret from everyone, particularly research administrator Frank Langella, who’s in charge of the money for Schwarzenegger’s research and who’s increasingly suspicious about the secretive goings-on. And as the expecting geneticist becomes romantically involved with Thompson, he has to hide his pregnancy from her too.
Why no one guesses what’s wrong with Schwarzenegger, as he vomits his way through the movie, clutches his oversize belly and talks about his “sense of absolute joy and connection,” is anyone’s guess. Perhaps it’s because screenwriters Kevin Wade and Chris Conrad need to get in all their funnies before someone blows the whistle. At one point, Schwarzenegger tears up at a cheesy TV ad in which a father is giving away his daughter as a bride. Later, his fertile gut protruding before him, Schwarzenegger asks Thompson, “Does my body disgust you?”
Of course, some people won’t find fault with the movie’s bad coincidences (count how many times Langella happens to overhear DeVito and Schwarzenegger) or those month-long patches of exposition between yuks (the movie’s almost two hours loooong). Let’s just say that, for the right audience, “Junior” may deliver. But there’s a whole lot of pregnancy to go through first.
JUNIOR (PG-13) — Contains minor profanity, major sexual situations and icky medical details—such as hypodermics thrust into bellybuttons, and the procurement of urine and sperm samples.
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