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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Twins’ Combination Of Success Failed To Do Same For ‘Junior’

When last seen, “Junior,” Ivan Reitman’s gender-switching comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was disappearing into the sunset realm of Hollywood misfire.

Which remains something of a surprise. After all, Reitman, Schwarzenegger and co-star Danny DeVito all were important parts of the 1988 comedy hit “Twins.” That one, you’ll recall, depended on the comic notion of muscleman Schwarzenegger and dwarfish DeVito being twin brothers.

“Junior,” too, involves weird science. In it, though, big Arnold plays a cold-fish-of-a scientific stuffed shirt who explores his vulnerability by, believe it or not, getting pregnant through a dubious scheme co-hatched by Dr. DeVito.

The sight of hulky Schwarzenegger being affected by his raging hormones - crying at a television commercial, eating everything from Rocky Road ice cream to barbecued chicken wings and marveling at the sensitivity of his nipples - is disarmingly charming. And Reitman continues to be capable of utilizing the talents of his actors, which include those of Emma Thompson, DeVito and especially Schwarzenegger.

Yet, clearly, much of the viewing public didn’t agree. “Junior” didn’t attract near the audience that flocked to “Twins” and continues to flock to Schwarzenegger’s more typical action vehicles (“True Lies,” etc.)

Arnold’s fans didn’t seem to like the idea of Mr. Macho discovering his feminine side. Maybe if he’d blown someone away in a PMS-induced rage…

***

Rated PG-13.

Interview With the Vampire

**

Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”) is appropriately faithful to Anne Rice’s best-selling novel, even with the casting of Tom Cruise as the charismatic and moody Lestat. But such faithfulness may be the major problem. Because although he makes things appropriately dark, Jordan just barely balances on the line between effective drama and self-conscious caricature. Brad Pitt looks the part, but he can’t begin to capture the somber gyrations of Louis. Christian Slater, meanwhile, merely has to phone in his performance as the interviewer (the role that was supposed to have been played by the late River Phoenix). The only time the film rises above Louis’ weighty, self-pitying moaning is when Cruise takes the screen. And then the “Top Gun” boy, even when he goes over the top, provides the heat, the sex appeal and the comic relief that Rice, caught up in her preteen indulgences, neglected to put in her screenplay. Rated R.

Safe Passage

*

All the elements of a good film are here: Dysfunctional family, motherly concerns, dissolving marriage, fatherly concerns, family tragedy, brotherly concerns, etc. But so little is made of any of them. Susan Sarandon is the mother of seven sons, Sam Shepard portrays her seemingly good-natured husband, and a collection of actors, ranging from Robert Sean Leonard to Sean Astin to Jason London, are the sons. Each has a role to play: Mom is the ultimate caretaker on the brink of rebellion, Dad is the stereotypical male presence who wonders what the fuss is all about and each of the sons does what he can to attract their attention. All gather when word comes that the black-sheep son who ran off to join the Marines may have been killed, giving the filmmakers a chance to indulge in a little Oprahlike therapy and problem-solving wherein a smile and a hug wipe out years of emotional abuse. Rated PG-13.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: What’s new to view Available this weekend: “Interview With the Vampire” (Warner), “Junior” (MCA/ Universal), “Safe Passage” (New Line) Available on Tuesday: “Disclosure” (Warner), “Drop Zone” (Paramount), “Far From Home” (Touchstone), “Queen Margot” (Miramax)

This sidebar appeared with the story: What’s new to view Available this weekend: “Interview With the Vampire” (Warner), “Junior” (MCA/ Universal), “Safe Passage” (New Line) Available on Tuesday: “Disclosure” (Warner), “Drop Zone” (Paramount), “Far From Home” (Touchstone), “Queen Margot” (Miramax)

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