Junior

1994, PG-13 Directed by Ivan Reitman. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson, Frank Langella, Pamela Reed, Judy Collins.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Nov. 25, 1994

What do you call the son of a Terminator and a Baby Maker? Why, Junior, of course. As directed by Ivan Reitman, Arnold Schwarzenegger's newest interpolation of his screen persona delivers about as many surprises as a planned pregnancy. Junior is now the third comedy Reitman and Schwarzenegger have made together -- Twins and Kindergarten Cop are the other two. Once again, these two have structured an entire movie around a single wacky premise, yet one designed to broaden the Schwarzenegger mystique: In Twins, the superhero-muscleman proved he could master comedy in the one-joke (but a good joke) story that outrageously mismatched him with Danny DeVito as long-lost twin brothers; Kindergarten Cop softened his law-enforcement persona by surrounding the character with a classful of children. Reitman long ago established himself as one of the guiding lights of film comedy (Meatballs, Stripes, Ghostbusters, Dave) and though everything he touches may not turn out to be blockbuster material, it is always assuredly competent and amusing. But Junior seems as though it were conceived while on autopilot. Formula: Repeat the wonderful “opposites attract” pairing of DeVito and Schwarzenegger, boost the “kiddie madness” of Kindergarten Cop to an even more ludicrous level by having the muscleman play the world's first pregnant man, further the preposterous mismatches by pairing Schwarzenegger with an unlikely love interest -- the stereotypically British, classical actress Emma Thompson, cast here as a spacey scientist. Junior succeeds at being silly in all the ways it intended. On a purely visual level, Junior is always good for a laugh -- a mere shot of Schwarzenegger's prosthetically impregnated stomach is usually sufficient to do the trick. Still, the movie doesn't move quickly or riotously enough for us to be able to suspend all critical disbelief and go with the flow. First, you have to accept Schwarzenegger as a doctor and dry research scientist. (Tough.) Next, you have to accept DeVito as an OB-GYN physician and fertility expert. (Frightening!) But your mind will continually pester you because it gets hung up thinking about the exact mechanics by which a wombless man might carry a fetus to full term. And then, once the effects of the estrogen kick in, Schwarzenegger is increasingly overwhelmed by stereotypically “female” behavior -- he becomes an emotionally needy partner (a wife to DeVito's husband), craves pickles, and cries over sappy stuff on TV. He suffers morning sickness but no breast engorgement, his sexual desire is heightened but he remains a confirmed male heterosexual. Funny stuff, this estrogen. Weirdest of all (even weirder than Judy Collins' presence in the film), is hearing Schwarzenegger uttering the movie's signature line: “My body; my choice.” It's even weirder than seeing his character dressed in drag -- an obvious bow to the hip movie fashion of the year. Junior is passable entertainment, but it could hardly be called fully developed.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Ivan Reitman Films
Draft Day
Baseball season arrives with Kevin Costner playing a football GM. Blasphemy!

Kimberley Jones, April 11, 2014

No Strings Attached
Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher play characters who test whether a relationship can remain purely sexual.

Kimberley Jones, Jan. 28, 2011

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Echo in the Canyon
History of the Laurel Canyon folk-rock scene gets lost in its own winding paths

June 21, 2019

The Last Black Man in San Francisco
A gentle, poetic look at gentrification that shimmers with the winds of history

June 14, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Junior, Ivan Reitman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito, Emma Thompson, Frank Langella, Pamela Reed, Judy Collins

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle