Junior (1994) / Comedy-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, and language
Running Time: 109 min.
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson, Frank Langella, Pamela Reed, Judy Collins
Director: Ivan Reitman
Screenplay: Kevin Wade, Chris Conrad
For some reason, Arnold Schwarzenegger was of the opinion that, at this point in his phenomenal career as an action star, he needed to deflate his macho image by constantly making fun of it. Starting with 1988's Twins and ending with 1996's Jingle All the Way, Arnold made a total of nine films, six of them being either straight comedies or semi-parodies of the Schwarzenegger mystique.
For all of his attempts at ego deflation, it's interesting that two of the three more conventional Schwarzenegger vehicles, Terminator 2 and Total Recall, rank among his very best films to date. Perhaps he should have stuck to delivering fantastic action flicks. as he failed to reclaim his #1 action star status, although one might claim that showing Arnie's softer side helped to pave the way in making him more personable and palatable to American public, and his political career became more of an option as his Hollywood career was on the decline.
The comedies that come closest to success are the ones that infuse more of the Schwarzenegger bravado (True Lies, Last Action Hero), while the worst of them are the ones where he puts down his gun to play strictly for laughs (Jingle All the Way is the prime example). Junior falls into that second category, and consequently, ranks as one of his most critical and commercial failures.
In this film, he isn't a brute or cyborg, but rather, one of the world's top biologists, Dr. Alex Hesse. Alex partners with a leading fertility expert, Dr. Larry Arbogast (DeVito, Hoffa), in testing their new wonder drug, Expectane, which they feel will be vital in enhancing fertility and greatly reducing miscarriages. When funding for their research goes down the tubes (so to speak), Hess and Arbogast decide that they will conduct the experiment on their own, using Alex as the patient. Using a frozen egg, Arbogast fertlizes it with his own sperm and injects it into his body, causing him to become pregnant. Wacky hijinks ensue.
Some people out there would probably give this more of a pass than I am, simply because they like Arnie. If you were to remove personal affection for the superstar, you would realize that, if you had never heard of Arnold Schwarzenegger and were viewing this as a standalone film, this is one hell of an unfunny movie, with a tasteless premise, predictable turns of events, and wholly contrived plotting meant strictly to show a large, muscular man doing very un-macho things, like crying, dressing up like a woman, and driving himself more by emotion than logic.
Pretty much all of the entertainment value comes from the movie's poster, showing Arnold at a stage of late pregnancy. If you're wise, that snicker will suffice, as seeing nearly two hours of high-concept, low-humor shenanigans like Arnold carrying a baby in his womb (or whatever he carries it in) makes for a very shoddy excuse for a few yuks -- yuks that never come, I might add. This is a film so nauseating, I think I experienced my own form of morning sickness right along with him. You don't have to be pro-choice to feel justified in aborting this one from your DVD player; just like in real life, the earlier, the better.
©2006 Vince Leo