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‘Junior’ (PG-13)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 23, 1994

From Terminator to Incubator, from steroids to estrogen, from buns of steel to bun in the oven: Arnold Schwarzenegger gets in touch with his feminine side in "Junior." A fleecy romantic caper with a dusting of feminism, the picture is basically a one-joke movie successfully nursed by director Ivan Reitman.

Schwarzenegger, who has never looked more radiant, is preggers. It's a biological crock, of course, but it's best not to question the pseudoscience that results in Arnold's delicate condition. Suffice to say that Danny DeVito, as a fertility doctor, impregnates the hero, who is both father and surrogate mother of the embryo.

Schwarzenegger and DeVito play Alexander Hesse and Larry Arbogast, an Austrian scientist and a tenacious gynecologist who have developed a drug, Expectane, that reduces the risk of miscarriage in chimps. When the FDA forbids them to test it on pregnant women, Dr. Arbogast persuades Dr. Hesse to play guinea pig in the name of science.

Meanwhile, their funds are cut off and a villainous department head (Frank Langella) forces them to give up their lab at the university to make room for Dr. Diana Reddin (intoxicating Emma Thompson), a cryogenics expert who arrives with a "dairy case" of frozen ova. Without her knowledge, Arbogast steals an egg, labeled "Junior," fertilizes it with Hesse's sperm and injects it into his colleague's tum-tum, where, thanks to daily doses of Expectane and female hormones, the embryo makes itself at home.

As the pregnancy progresses, the dour scientist experiences not only strange cravings and morning sickness, but a joyous new respect for life. At the end of 90 days, Hesse cannot bear to terminate the pregnancy. "I want my baby," he wails when Arbogast insists that he stop the medication. Hesse secretly continues the treatment until it's time to start shopping at the Big and Tall men's store.

Written by Chris Conrad and Kevin Wade, the story becomes increasingly farcical as Hesse's pregnancy draws to its inevitable conclusion. There's a hilarious segment featuring Schwarzenegger in maternity drag at a retreat for pregnant women and many slapstick moments for Thompson, whose shy, clumsy Dr. Reddin is Hesse's love interest.

"Junior" becomes a bit sticky in the end, and in terms of sexual politics, the film is even reactionary between the lines. But it is worth it all the same, just to be there when Schwarzenegger delivers not just the baby but also the line "My body, my choice" as if he expected it to replace "Hasta la vista, baby" as America's new catch phrase.

"Junior" is rated PG-13 for adult subject matter.

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