No one can touch Ivan Reitman’s record for turning high concepts into popular entertainment – really popular entertainment. His latest, the pregnant-man comedy Junior, is no exception. What separates this straightforward chuckler from the pack is its shrewd reliance on character rather than plot, and that human dimension proves surprisingly poignant.
In a cloistered lab on an ivy-shrouded campus, researchers Dr Alex Hesse (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Dr Larry Arbogast (Danny DeVito) have been working on a ‘wonder’ drug for safer pregnancies. But the FDA concludes that it’s not quite ready for the marketplace. So, faster than you can say loss leader, the duo get turfed and top Brit cryogenicist Dr Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson) is ensconced in their former digs.
A Canadian consortium is ready to bankroll Arbogast and the drug dubbed Expectane. What would really cement the deal is data from a human guinea pig. Arbogast fast-talks Hesse into being that test case. All Al has to do is carry the egg through the first trimester.
Junior harks back to Bringing Up Baby rather than to past attempts with like material such as Rabbit Test. It’s intrinsically funny to watch serious, sober scientists involved in totally goofy pursuits.
Reitman delights – as he did in Twins and Kindergarten Cop – in sending up Mr Mooscles’ persona, and Schwarzenegger’s performance is relaxed and assured. The picture also affords Thompson the opportunity to poke fun at her prim, proper image. DeVito and Frank Langella (as the villainous department administrator) nicely round out the cast, albeit in familiar roles.
1994: Nomination: Best Original Song (‘Look What Love Has Done’)