By reuniting the incongruous Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny de Vito duo again, the exploit of Ivan Reitman's "Junior" is to make an even more touching and funny comedy than his previous "Twins", once again, based on the same premise of an improbable scientific situation.
Improbable is quite an understatement. It's crazy enough to have a man facing pregnancy but out of all the actors who could pull it with more or less believability, hiring the ultimate tough guy, the one with the most masculine height and bone structure was quite a risky move. Risky but not absurd, there are times when you're entitled to a certain level of absurdity when making a comedy movie, but you can tell that "Junior" ambition reached higher than simple laughs, it wanted to tell a heart-warming story, a comedy with a heart, as I like to say.
This is why the casting was a masterstroke. This isn't "Twins" where Schwarzenegger's perfection was the illustration of a successful genetic manipulation and De Vito, all the opposite, here, Arnie's casting isn't crucial to the part, neither is Danny De Vito, but at the end, you realize that the movie couldn't have worked with better actors. De Vito has this 'streetwise businessman with sharp teeth' thing justifying such a gutsy idea, and Arnie is the cold European scientist so dedicated to his profession that we believe he can be lured into that crazy project.
Yet the film could have sinned by cynicism, showing that there's a mad scientist or sorcerer apprentice hiding behind every doctor, and that laboratories would trade ethics for the financial success of a revolutionary medicine, in the film's case, one to increase women's fertility and estrogen production. But they're not allowed to test the medicine on women. Never mind, the bounds of science are unlimited. And after all, didn't Jenner inoculated himself the smallpox virus to check if the vaccination worked, there comes a time where every scientist must question his vocation and push it to the extreme, for science's sake.
This left me a little perplexed but by an extraordinary coincidence, the same day I saw "junior", I found a documentary about the history of medicine and viruses, and not only I found out that Jenner actually tested the smallpox vaccination on a little boy, which was even more debatable and could've earned him a radiation had it failed? But that it took almost two decades for penicillin to really get its worldwide attention because Fleming was a good researcher but not much of a marketer and couldn't even get the implications his discovery would make.
So, in a way, there's a little mad scientist here, a businessmen there, but it's always for people's own good, and this is where "Junior" really takes you, it's not a movie about lobbying or genetic manipulation. It's the story of a man who discovers his maternal side by the simple process of feeling a baby inside him, and Arnold Schwarzenegger makes it not only believable but also touching, he doesn't overplay, within his own (not so limited) range, he finds the perfect note to draw a touched smile in your face, and there's one wonderful moment where he De Vito's character touch the belly and smiles, so moving you forget the implausibility of the situation.
But there can't be a film about pregnancy without women, and both Pamela Reed and Emma Thompson plays respectively De Vito's ex-wife and the scientist who took Arnie's laboratory. Thompson is such a gifted actress that she knows how to make you laugh from rather predictable situations, and her involuntary involvement in the pregnancy gives a film a nice little twist. To close the gallery, there's also Frank Langella who plays the obligatory antagonist to the story but the essential is in the pregnancy.
Indeed, they are the reason to be of the film, and everything is handled in such a way that you never feel it over the top. Take when Arnie is disguised as a woman, anyone would laugh at the immediate sight and while it's it's not Dustin Hoffman in "Tootsie", Arnie gives a wonderful explanation about the reason his looks don't necessarily match his gender, and we buy it because within the film own zaniness, there's something touching and involving and leading us to a wonderful climax.
Now, does the film reflects some gender views that in each man, there's a woman inside, I think it's much more conservative than that. Indeed, by becoming more feminine through pregnancy, there's something that might imply that the main identifying aspect of women is the capability to give life, to carry life, and maybe this is why women are generally, the most protective, the least destructive and the most caring of both sexes. But if this sounds misogynistic to say it, well, that's how sad today's world has become.
Review by ElMaruecan82 from the Internet Movie Database.