Junior (1994) / Review by Marla

Larry: Just 'cause your egg's in some guy doesn't make you the mother!

By Ivan Reitman
With Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny DeVito and Emma Thompson

I watched this movie for two reasons.

1) I find (and Tumor would agree) Arnold Schwarzenegger to be unconditionally hilarious. I'm not really sure why -- it could be the hyperbolic masculinity he represents--those strapping muscles that in a previous film spontaneously burst through a shirt--but more accurately it could be his absolutely fantabulous Austrian accent.

2) The premise of this film. Precisely because of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hypermasculinity, it seems he was compelled to take this role as a challenge to himself -- by being the exact opposite of what he represents. No, he does not go through a sex change operation -- but close enough. In Junior, he plays Dr. Alex, a scientist who finds himself bereft of a lab or funds to carry out his life's research, which is an estrogen pill designed to help cure infertility. With some prodding from his rather shifty/villainous looking sidekick, he decides to take matters into his own hands -- or in this instance, his own belly -- and becomes a surrogate "mother" as a part of his research.

What I liked: I was not disappointed. I felt this movie was successful, not just because it was wickedly funny -- even though its humor relied on various clichés of what a pregnant woman is (imagine the flood of tears, sappy movies, and an overwhelming amount of food and a drive to poke one's "steiffen" into any remotely animated thing) -- but because I think the real question it evoked was as Larry so pronounces, "Just 'cause your egg's in some guy doesn't make you the mother!"

And this is what I think the movie ultimately is trying to point out -- using the absurd spectacle of masculine man walking like a pregnant woman and wearing a wig -- that the frustration and effort that the other parent, the one who isn't carrying the child (which in most cases is the father) has to extend. The effort is a bridge that takes considerable effort to traverse, and shouldn't be underestimated.

What I disliked: The movie oversimplified gender roles. While it was funny at times, at others it just seemed like it was taking a laugh at women and trivializing the emotional and physical changes women experience during pregnancy/childbirth -- reinforcing the patriarchal assumption that what the woman brings into child rearing is 1) only the physical aspect 2) as such, somehow negligible.

Rating 67/100
The film manages to adequately -- albeit awkwardly at times -- highlight the role of parenting which lies outside the realm of the body -- the emotional connection parents have to establish with the child to be considered a "father" or "mother" in a psychological sense.


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