Thursday, 30 May 2013

Scene 59: Review of Junior

I'm back. I guess I dropped off the radar for a while there. I haven't posted for a couple of weeks now, due to a combination of work and writer's block, or rather lack of writing motivation.  However I have finally managed to return to give you a belated review on the film Junior (1994). 

Junior is a film about a scientist Alex Hesse, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a fertility clinic owner Larry Arbogast, played by Danny DeVito, who have created a new drug to help pregnant women. Unfortunately, the drug does not pass the board of officials and they can't move onto the next stage of the research, testing it on humans. However, DeVito's character, determined to get the drug tested and sold to a company manages to persuade Schwarzenegger's character to be the test subject - which means making him pregnant. 

So, lets start with the good stuff, which really only is the great cast. True this isn't the best film to showcase their talents, but its enjoyable seeing them in this movie. I thought the young Emma Thompson in particular, who plays the love interest Doctor Reddin, had a charming, bubbly screen presence that was fun to watch - despite the fact that her character and been given stereotypical ditzy, clumsy traits. 

I also thought the story seemed pretty well thought out, the scientists creating the drug, and needing a test subject. That makes sense, and its believable. Well, it is to begin with...

Then we have my biggest problem with the film. It goes creates a scenario that allowed me to suspend my disbelieve and then, it completely fell down on the actual science. I know its meant to be comedy, and its not meant to be serious, but this just annoyed me so much. 

Let me explain - in the film  becomes Schwarzenegger pregnant when DeVito's character injects a fertilised egg into a cavity in his abdomen, which with their new drug and some female hormones, won't be attacked by his body. Fair enough. That could work. Some pregnancy symptoms? He's on hormones, fair enough. He decides to keep the baby and go full term. Fair enough.... wait. That doesn't work at all! 

I can believe a bunch of cells could survive in a guy for a few days, but baby? If you have been to school and even done basically biology, you know that a foetus grows in the uterus and is fed through the placenta. There is no way the cells in the character's body could have become a foetus and then a baby.  There is nothing protecting them or feeding them oxygen and nutrients. It's just impossible. 

I guess I wouldn't have minded -  if the movie hadn't been obviously trying to base this in a reality close to our own. In Rabbit Test (1978), another male pregnancy film directed by Joan Rivers, the protagonist just gets pregnant. No explanation at all. But in the world of that film, which is like several bad stand up jokes and comedic characters linked together, it doesn't matter - this is a world of living jokes, and therefore its sort of logically! That film isn't trying to stick to reality, Junior is trying to give some scientific reason for the premise.

What annoys me furtehr is that the film does use medically jargon to explain things, so the writer must have done some research. They just forgot the whacking great fact that a uterus is kind of essential to having a child - or maybe they just ignored it. 

So that's what pretty much killed my ability to watch the film. I could not take it seriously after that. Even though it was pretty silly to begin with at least it seemed somewhat believable - now it just isn't. 

On top of that it also contains the use of a device that I have decided, once and for all, that I really don't like - when a movie decides to superimpose the face of an actor, usually male, on a baby. I have seen three versions of this scene in Junior, in a clip of Son of the Mask (2005) and in I Heart Huckabees (2004) - and its never funny. 

Seriously comedy filmmakers, I beg of you, stop using this technique. It just looks creepy and wrong! It is so bad that when I was sorting out my DVD collection, the main reason I decided to ditch I Heart Huckabees was because I couldn't bear to see the scene where the Jude Law baby suckles Jason Schwartzman. And yes, you read that right. Ugh. 

So in summary, Junior has a good cast, but generally looks mediocre, isn't terribly funny and the whole premises is rather undermined by its ignorance, or ignoring, basic human biology. Oh yeah, and the last act features a lot of Arnie in pink drag, which is just horribly awkward, and again not funny. 

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