Definitely not third time lucky for Schwarzenegger and Reitman in a film in which even the actors can't be bothered.

Released in 1994, certified UK-PG. Reviewed on 01 Aug 2003 by Drew Tavendale
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Quite what hold Ivan Reitman has over Arnold Schwarzenegger I know not, but I reckon he must have some incriminating photographs from his past, or something similar. That Schwarzenegger actually considers Reitman's work good is almost unbelievable - this is, after all, a man who has worked with directors of the calibre of James Cameron and John McTiernan, so he knows a good film-maker when he sees one. Whatever the reason, Arnie has teamed up for a third time with Reitman (their previous collaborations being Twins and Kindergarten Cop), but rather than third time lucky, we must sincerely hope it's a case of 3 strikes and you're out, because another film as bad as Junior will end the big man's career once and for all.

Once again opting to play the fish-out-of-water card and have Schwarzenegger in a role to which we are unaccustomed to seeing him play (this is, of course, the director's first big mistake - Schwarzenegger has by this point played so many non-action roles, and sent himself up so often, that we no longer have a fixed idea in our mind of a typical Arnie role), Reitman this time has decided to make the former terminator pregnant. Hilarity ensues. Or rather more accurately, doesn't.

Reuniting with his Twins colleague, Danny DeVito, Ah-nuld plays Dr. Alex Hesse, an Austrian (yes, an Austrian. For the most famous Austrian in the world - let us disregard Adolf Hitler, on account of him being dead - Schwarzenegger doesn't often get the chance to play one of his own countrymen) bio-scientist working in San Francisco. Hesse and obstetrician Larry Arbogast (DeVito) are working together on a new drug to improve the fertility of women and increase their likelihood of becoming pregnant. After the FDA deny their application to test the drug on human subjects (it has previously only been used on chimpanzees that are, as it happens, much the best thing in the film), they are forced to vacate their laboratory at the university.

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Taking their place is clumsy scientist Dr. Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson), who, because she's a jolly nice chap, doncherknow, offers some space, equipment, supplies and lab time to the two men should they wish to carry on their research. As we all know, research scientists at universities have plenty of spare resources to allow them to do this, so that's alright. Regardless of this kind offer, Hesse is disillusioned and sets off back to Austria. Having had a brainwave about how they can continue their work illegally, Arbogast sets off to find Hesse and persuade him to stay.

Arbogast's brainwave (if you can really call an idea quite so monumentally stupid a brainwave) - rather than finding a female volunteer, they implant an embryo into Arnold himself - is the central plot of the film. Procuring an egg from Dr. Reddin's storage facility, the embryo is created with Hesse's own sperm, and implanted into his abdomen. Having at least given a little thought to the pseudo-science, the writers have acknowledged that Hesse will have to take female hormones alongside his and Arbogast's 'Expectane' drug, but rather wisely they don't delve further into the science of how to make a man pregnant than that.

The rest of the film is taken up with Schwarzenegger's pregnant experiences, with predictable instances of the 'men don't know what its like' kind, and a whole lot of oh-so-funny encounters where Hesse's symptoms or appearance must be explained away with increasingly poor excuses (ending up at a centre for expectant mothers, and dressed in frilly pink with a dodgy wig, the unmistakably masculine Schwarzenegger explains that he was an East German athlete who had male hormones foisted upon him against his will), and his burgeoning romance with Diana, whose own egg, it transpires, was the one that Arbogast stole and implanted into Alex.

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It really isn't worth your while watching this. Even the actors seemed to have realised this, and for the entire first half of the movie they just can't be bothered with it all. Never before have I seen such lackadaisical, apathetic performances. Not that they had much to work with though - the script is simply appalling, and cries out for humour (and possibly a 25 minute running time). The central story is rather crap too. Many ideas seem good at the time, but how the idea of making The Terminator pregnant ever did we will probably never know.

Casting leaves something to be desired too. Though DeVito worked well with Schwarzenegger in Twins, I just don't buy him as an obstetrician (and I know that of which I speak, having met dozens of them) - he comes across very much as a cheap con-man rather than a successful practitioner of medicine. Emma Thompson too, well regarded for her Shakespearean roles, is wasted in the role of the accident-prone Dr. Reddin, a strange role, for surely any scientist quite so clumsy and haphazard would never be able to do any practical. Arnie's Kindergarten Cop co-star Pamela Reed is also an unnecessary addition to the line-up as DeVito's ex-wife, in an uninteresting sub-plot about her pregnancy by a member of Aerosmith.

Junior is best left well alone, and is unlikely to be enjoyed even by Arnie die-hards. I award this film 1/5 goodness marks.

Ivan Reitman
Cast list:
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Dr. Alex Hesse)
Danny DeVito (Dr. Larry Arbogast)
Emma Thompson (Dr. Diana Reddin)