Twins is a 1988 American buddy comedy film produced and directed by Ivan Reitman about unlikely twins (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito) who were separated at birth. The core of the film is the contrast between DeVito’s streetwise persona and Schwarzenegger’s character, who is highly intelligent yet innocent and socially inexperienced.
The film was a commercial success grossing $216 million worldwide. Instead of taking their usual salaries for the film, Schwarzenegger and DeVito both agreed with the studio to take 20% of the film’s box office returns; this resulted in them receiving the biggest paychecks of their movie careers.
Julius Benedict and Vincent Benedict are twins, the result of a secret experiment carried out at a genetics laboratory to combine the DNA of six fathers to produce the perfect child. To the surprise of the scientists, the embryo split and twins were born. The mother, Mary Ann Benedict, was told that Julius died at birth, and not told about Vincent at all. Vincent was placed in an orphanage run by nuns in Los Angeles and believed his mother abandoned him. With no one but himself to rely on, Vincent seduced a nun, escaped from the orphanage, and later became an indebted, small-time low-life. Julius was raised on a South Pacific island by Professor Werner, one of the scientists from the experiment, who put him through intense physical training and extensive study. Each twin was unaware of the other’s existence.
On Julius’s 35th birthday, Werner finally tells Julius about Vincent. With Werner’s blessing, Julius proceeds to the United States to find his brother. Julius discovers that Vincent lives in L.A. and eventually tracks him down in jail for unpaid parking tickets.
Julius bails Vincent out, but Vincent does not believe his story and abandons him in a parking lot. Julius pursues Vincent to his workplace and finds him being beaten up by Morris Klane, an enforcer from a clan of loan sharks. Julius subdues Morris, earning Vincent’s trust and respect. He later meets Vincent’s girlfriend Linda Mason and enters a romantic relationship with her sister Marnie. Over dinner, Vincent shows Julius a document he stole from the orphanage that shows their mother is actually still alive, but believing that she abandoned him at birth, Vincent shows no interest in finding her. Julius tracks one of their six fathers to the address on the document. The father directs Julius to Mitchell Traven in New Mexico, the other professor who headed the experiment.
Vincent steals a late model Cadillac Sedan de Ville for his chop shop contact and finds a prototype fuel injector in the trunk that was to be delivered to an industrialist, Beetroot McKinley, in Houston, for five million dollars. Vincent decides to pose as the delivery man, Mr. Webster, and deliver the fuel injector himself so he can collect the money and pay off his debts. He reluctantly allows Julius, Linda and Marnie to accompany him to New Mexico to find professor Traven, while Webster begins pursuing Vincent.
In New Mexico, Traven reveals the truth to the twins, pointing out that Julius resulted from the best genes, and Vincent split from the useless genetic material. He directs them to Santa Fe, where their mother lives in an art colony. On the way to Santa Fe, the twins are accosted by the Klane brothers, but they fight them off for the last time. At the art colony in Santa Fe, a painter informs Julius and Vincent that their mother has died. They leave, unaware that the painter was in fact their mother, Mary Ann, who didn’t believe their story.
Abandoning Julius and the girls in New Mexico, Vincent bitterly heads to Houston alone to deliver the prototype to McKinley. Julius chases after Vincent, sensing his whereabouts thanks to twin telepathy, and finds him seconds after the exchange with McKinley. Webster appears and kills McKinley, demanding the money from Vincent. Julius intercepts Webster in order for Vincent to escape, but Vincent returns and agrees to give Webster the money to save Julius.
Webster decides to kill them anyway for seeing his face, but Vincent kills him by unloading a heavy chain onto his head and burying him. Julius and Vincent return both the prototype and $4 million (with Vincent skimming $1 million), and use that along with the reward to pay off Vincent’s debts and start a consulting firm. Their publicity reaches the art colony, and Mary Ann learns that her sons are alive. She violently confronts Traven for concealing the truth and then tracks Julius and Vincent down to their workplace, where they share a warm reunion.
Sometime later, Julius and Vincent marry the Mason sisters. Both marriages produce twin children, and the couples are last seen meeting their mother and Professor Werner on an outing.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Julius Benedict
- Danny DeVito as Vincent Benedict
- Kelly Preston as Marnie Mason
- Chloe Webb as Linda Mason
- Bonnie Bartlett as Mary Ann Benedict
- Heather Graham (uncredited) as young Mary Ann
- David Caruso as Al Greco
- Trey Wilson as Beetroot McKinley
- Marvin J. McIntyre as McKinley’s man
- Marshall Bell as Mr. Webster
- Tony Jay as Professor Werner, also the narrator
- Hugh O’Brian as Granger, one of the twins’ fathers
- Jason Reitman as Granger’s grandson
- Catherine Reitman as Granger’s granddaughter
- Nehemiah Persoff as Professor Mitchell Traven
- Maury Chaykin as Burt Klane
- Tom McCleister as Bob Klane
- David Efron as Morris Klane
- Sven-Ole Thorsen as Sam Klane
- Gus Rethwisch as Dave Klane
- Richard Portnow as Tony, the chop shop owner
- Frances Bay as Mother Superior
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Asian man
- Elizabeth Kaitan as Secretary
- Joe Medjuck as Photographer at the start of the film
- Nicolette Larson as Singer
- Jeff Beck as Guitarist
- Terry Bozzio as Drummer
- Robert Harper as Gilbert Larsen
- Dendrie Taylor as Agnes, the neighbor
- Jack Madrid as Owner of NY Pasta & Pizza
The original music score was composed by Georges Delerue and Randy Edelman. Edelman has scored three more films for the director (Ghostbusters II; Kindergarten Cop; Six Days, Seven Nights) whereas this was Delerue’s only work for him.
The bridge that Vincent drives along is the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge near Taos, New Mexico.
Twins received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 44% based on reviews from 41 critics with the consensus: “Though it offers a few modest pleasures for undemanding viewers, Twins leans too heavily on the wackiness of its premise to overcome its narrative shortcomings.”
However, Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, calling it “engaging entertainment with some big laughs and a sort of warm goofiness.”
Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “A-” on an A+ to F scale.
The film was a commercial success, opening as the number one film in the United States earning $11 million on its opening weekend. It retained the top spot for the next two weekends and went on to gross $112 million domestically being the fifth biggest grossing film in the U.S. released in 1988. The film was released in the United Kingdom on March 17, 1989, and topped the country’s box office that weekend. It grossed $216 million worldwide.
Following the film’s success, Reitman and Schwarzenegger teamed up again for Kindergarten Cop (1990) and then again for Junior (1994), which also starred DeVito.
In March 2012, Universal announced the development of a sequel titled Triplets with Schwarzenegger and DeVito due to return with Eddie Murphy as their long lost brother. Reitman was set to co-produce.