In this lavish, fitfully amusing formula comedy, Arnold Schwarzenegger seizes the means of reproduction as history's first pregnant man (unless you've seen Billy Crystal in 1978's RABBIT TEST). Considering its queasy subject matter, JUNIOR is surprisingly restrained, although it doesn't
carry many laughs to full term.
Despondent when college administrator Noah Banes (Frank Langella) cuts funds for his experiments with the new fertility drug Expectane, research scientist Alex Hesse (Arnold Schwarzenegger) packs his bags for Europe. But his partner, Dr. Larry Arbogast (Danny DeVito), persuades him to act as
guinea pig in a secret experiment: an ovum will be implanted in his body and fertilized with the new drug; his "pregnancy" will terminate as soon as the Expectane is withdrawn. Unbeknownst to Alex, Larry steals a human egg from Dr. Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson), whose cryogenic studies have
supplanted their work at the university lab. Meanwhile, Larry's pregnant ex-wife Angela (Pamela Reed) tries to convince the truculent scientist to act as her obstetrician.
Alex, now impregnated, begins to experience symptoms of his hormonal changes: morning sickness, emotional spells, even the mythical "glow" of expectant mothers. Bonding with his unborn child, he refuses to end his landmark pregnancy. Larry's horrified and then exasperated, but he finally gives
in to Alex's resolve and agrees to deliver his baby. Complications arise when Angela questions Larry's nervous demeanor, and a suspicious Banes investigates the scientists' unauthorized requisitioning of Expectane. Then Diana discovers that her own ovum was appropriated for the experiment and
reads Alex the riot act: she would have liked him to be the father of her child, not the mother. Cosseted in drag in a trendy retreat for expectant mothers, Alex fearfully awaits the blessed event. Although Banes figures out the truth, he's discredited after his attempt to manipulate the upcoming
birth as a media event benefiting the university. Unable to produce proof, he's fired. After Alex goes into labor, Larry sneaks him back to his clinic. There, a forgiving Diana comforts Angela, as Larry not only delivers the miracle baby but also brings Angela's bundle of joy into the world. Diana
and Alex, who have fallen in love, decide to keep the experiment a secret and raise their child together.
Ivan Reitman's JUNIOR is the product of one of the highest high concepts in Hollywood history--in three words, Arnold Gets Pregnant. The resulting screenplay is the kind that, in studio parlance, "writes itself," and thus, after a rather labored set-up, the film runs systematically through every
last obvious gag suggested by the premise. The predictability is numbing: by the time the closing credits roll, we know we'll have seen Arnold having morning sickness, cravings, and hormonal hot flashes; being fitted for a maternity suit; experiencing insecurities ("Does my body disgust you?");
getting weepy; and generally getting in touch with his feminine side. At first, it's passably amusing--in large part because of Schwarzenegger's warm and surprisingly sensitive performance--but tedium sets in before long, and the viewer may well greet the appearance of each obligatory gag with
some relief, since it means the end is that much nearer.
Unlike the previous Reitman-Schwarzenegger collaborations TWINS and KINDERGARTEN COP, JUNIOR was a major flop (its $35 million domestic gross probably didn't cover production costs, especially given the star's hefty salary), implying that Arnold's fans now feel that his calculated attempts to
feminize his image have gone quite far enough. This, coupled with the blockbuster success of TRUE LIES, suggests that Schwarznegger will stick to macho action pictures for the foreseeable future. (Violence, profanity.)
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: In this lavish, fitfully amusing formula comedy, Arnold Schwarzenegger seizes the means of reproduction as history's first pregnant man (unless you've seen Billy Crystal in 1978's RABBIT TEST). Considering its queasy subject matter, JUNIOR is surprisingly… (more)