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'Twins' (PG-13)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
December 09, 1988

"Twins" -- here's the long and the short of it: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. A star vehicle from its onset, this peculiar, mediocre comedy strains to accommodate the talents of both Mutt and Jeff, Terminator and troll. It's a Frankensteinian thing, an unsettling combination of two-fisted beefcake and mean-spirited shtick. And there's enough sugary male bonding to warrant a Sensitive Guys Red Alert.

Schwarzenegger, a beatific -- or is it idiotic? -- smile on his Easter Island mug, makes his comedy debut as stiff but lovable Julius in this freaky fantasy of brotherly love. And DeVito, everybody's favorite little big man, eases the transition for the brawny superstar, crackling and popping off like a bowl of breakfast cereal. He is the shiftless Vincent, the younger of the genetically engineered fraternal twins. Six geniuses combined sperm donations -- never mind the one-sperm-to-an-egg business -- so that the boys' beautiful and talented mother might bear a superior child. Julius, the brilliant, bilingual Visigoth, is that child. Vincent poignantly describes himself as "a side effect."

When they are separated at birth, Vincent is placed in an orphanage, where he gets nuns in trouble, while Julius is reared by a kindly tutor on a deserted South Seas island. Upon learning the truth, the joyful Julius goes to Hollywood to find his brother.

Though they have certain mannerisms in common, they are not only physically but spiritually mismatched. Vincent, a car thief, womanizer and parking ticket welsher, involves his naive brother in his shady dealings (a plot turn that gives Schwarzenegger a chance to kick butt and lift Cadillacs). But eventually he responds to his big brother's support and affection.

Meanwhile, Julius shakes off his innocence when he makes love for the first time. And Schwarzenegger loses his on-screen virginity rather sweetly -- though he remains one of our most romantically impaired leading men. Kelly Preston is Schwarzenegger's love interest, one of the shapely blond sisters in salami-skin-tight skirts who accompany the twins on a search for their broodmare mommy. Chloe Webb love-interests DeVito, and Bonnie Bartlett carried the genetically engineered darlings to term.

Producer-director Ivan Reitman of "Ghostbusters" commissioned two pairs of writers to tailor this script to the heroes, and it fits them like a cheap, off-the-rack suit. Just say bro.

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