Junior: Ivan Reitman Conventional Satire about Gender and Maternity, Starring and DeVito

Ivan Reitman’s Junior is to this year’s holiday season what Robin Williams star vehicle Mrs. Doubtfire was to last year’s, a conventional farce about gender and maternity, except that Williams smash hit was funnier.

After the successful comedy “Twins,” Arnold Schwarzenegger is once again teamed with Danny De Vito. A researcher named Alex Hesse agrees to be a human guinea pig for a yet disapproved FDA fertility drug. Danny DeVito is the “mad” scientist who administers artificial insemination.

Screenwriters Chris Conrad and Kevin Wade’s humor is shamelessly stereotypical. For starters, Schwarzenegger exhibits all the attributes that are usually associated with pregnant women (ravenous hunger, hormonal surges, sentimentality).

The two men move in together and just in case the audience might suspect that something spooky (i.e. gay) is going on between the odd couple, the filmmakers make sure to introduce two appealing women. Pamlea Reed is DeVito’s ex-wife, who insists he delivers a baby (from a one-night stand). Emma Thompson gets a chance to demonstrate her comedic skills in a caricature of a scientist.

I laughed three or four times. It’s public knowledge that Schwarzenegger is a kinder, gentler Republican, so when he delivers a line like, “My body, my choice,” you inevitably laugh.

Schwarzenegger in drag is no more or less funny than Robin Williams was in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Old-fashioned and even reactionary, Junior is a high-concept movie that smacks of calculated commercialism.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Song: Look What Love Has Done

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The Song Oscar went to Can You Feel the Love Tonight, by Elton John and Tim Rice, from the movie Lion King.