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FISCHER: A hop back to the past

By Travis Fischer,

My family spent the Easter holiday the same way we generally spend all of our holidays. Everybody met up at my sister’s house with our assigned food (I brought the potatoes), we performed the traditional holiday specific activities (in this case, watching the kid find eggs in the yard), and I found something for us to watch on TV while we ate dinner and hung out.

This year, the Netflix algorithm led me to “Twins,” the 1988 Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito classic comedy based entirely around the humorous notion that those two physical opposites could be so closely related.

FISCHER: A hop back to the past
Travis Fischer

Talk about a blast from the past. I had “Twins” on VHS growing up. In fact, it may have been among the first VHS movies I remember my family having.

Watching it again, for the first time in probably more than three decades, it was wild to finally get all the plot elements and jokes that went over my head when I was 5.

Back then, as far as I was concerned, “Twins” was mostly a movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger did cool things with his immense physical strength while Danny DeVito gave funny line deliveries. They were on a road trip, money was involved, bad guys were after them, but the finer details about how and why didn’t really matter.

Obviously, watching it today is a different experience. And not just because my soon-to-be brother-in-law insists on keeping the motion smoothing turned on for his television.

Looking at it today, with a more critical eye, the plot is pretty convoluted and mostly serves to set up various set pieces for Schwarzenegger and DeVito to play off each other in. Which is fine. They are a winning combo.

More weird though was just revisiting the world of 1988 again. Danny DeVito uses a corded phone wired into his car, cutting edge technology at the time. Kelly Preston casually smokes a cigarette in the grocery store. And, of course, the big conflict of the movie ends up being over a payday of $5 million.

Which, don’t get me wrong, I’d still take $5 million in a briefcase in 2024, but that’s a very different amount of money than it would have been in 1988.

It was a different world back then.

Making it a double feature, I also put on “Kindergarten Cop.” Another team-up between director Ivan Reitman and Schwarzenegger where Arnold plays a rough-and-tumble detective who has to go undercover as a kindergarten teacher to track down the missing ex-wife of a drug lord and their son in order to put the criminal away.

Watching “Kindergarten Cop” as an adult is a real trip. Especially when you’ve spent as much time covering school administration as I have. The idea that a school would just abruptly remove a kindergarten teacher so that an undercover police officer could take their place in the classroom probably wouldn’t hold up today.

I’d say it also probably wouldn’t hold up in 1990, but I remember my own elementary principal burning a tick off my best friend with the cigar he smoked in his office. Rules and regulations may have still been lax enough back then that the movie’s premise couldn’t be dismissed entirely.

Still, you have to wonder what happens after the credits roll.

Spoiler alert for a 34-year-old action comedy: The movie ends with Arnold limping back into his classroom after surviving the climatic shootout with the bad guy, apparently deciding to quit the force and become a full-time kindergarten teacher. I guess it sucks to be the highly experienced teacher whose job just got permanently taken by an unaccredited Austrian with a ferret and a police whistle.

Arnold also gets together with the drug lord’s ex-wife, who is a teacher in the school and leaves her own classroom to have a romantic make-out session with Arnold in front of a bunch of 6-year-olds. Including her own son, who just days earlier witnessed his kindergarten teacher and presumably future step-father shoot his criminal biological father to death in the locker room. That poor kid is six or seven years away from showering in the same spot his father died after gym class.

If there was ever to be a sequel, I’d imagine it have to be child “Child Psychiatrist Cop,” because that kid is gonna have more baggage than a passenger jet.

Then again, maybe sometimes it’s better to just approach movies like you’re 5 and not think about the finer details that much.

— Travis Fischer is a news writer for the Charles City Press and figures he’ll have to put on “Junior” at some point to finish out the set.

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