Every now and again, you watch a movie you’ve heard of, vaguely, from your past, thinking it to be a one-off. Then, when you look with the benefit of the internet you discover there was so much more than you ever expected – I blame this for the endless reviews of horror sequels I’ve subjected you to here at the ISCFC. But sometimes you find something that’s more fun, and thus we come to the Barbarian Brothers.
Peter and David Paul were a pair of identical twins who…the internet is not always as forthcoming as it could be. I guess the 80s were a simpler time, when a couple of bodybuilding twins with a sort of goofy charm could get themselves famous for no reason. So, they appeared in TV and movies, starting with “DC Cab” in 1983 and ending up with this in 1994 (they had a part in “Natural Born Killers” that ended up on the cutting room floor). They seem genuinely likeable fellows, equally happy in “retirement”, with one a photographer and the other running a gym, and I think we’ll be covering a few of their other starring vehicles in upcoming weeks. They did what appears to be a straight barbarian movie, and a lot of comedy, as they clearly loved making people laugh. Good on them!
But bad on people who insist on casting children in movies. Kids are the worst, as they’re never going to be seriously hurt, with a strong chance they’ll just be cute and precocious and learn a valuable lesson at the end about respecting their elders and blah blah blah. I guess the gimmick is, the two kids in “Twin Sitters” are also twins, so…nah, I got nothing. Their uncle is an ISCFC regular by the name of Jared Martin (“Rome 2072: The New Gladiators”, “Karate Warriors”) and their teacher / the brothers’ love interest is Rena Sofer, who’s been in a staggering number of TV shows. But anyway.
Uncle works for a criminal, gets a conscience, goes to the cops, and while he’s testifying, hires the brothers to look after the kids, after seeing them defend a playground from a gang of gunmen. They’re a couple of goofy guys who get fired from every job they’ve ever had, but are clearly destined to open up an Italian restaurant, one being a great cook and the other being perfect maitre d’ material. Oh, the opening scene has B-movie legend Paul Bartel in it for no reason? I guess he was wandering past the set that day, or owed someone a favour? The kids are assholes, the brothers eventually win them over by taking no garbage from the kids at all, there’s the villain (played by former James Bond George Lazenby) trying to silence the Uncle, the usual.
It’s almost impossible not to like the Barbarian Brothers, as goofy as they are. One gets the feeling they were allowed a fair degree of latitude with the script, as there are plenty of scenes where they do something which was presumably funny to them, but was definitely not funny to anyone else; the extras in several scenes look vaguely embarrassed to be there. They make HGH jokes at the beginning, which is a weird thing for two men who’ve very obviously had chemical help to obtain their ludicrous physiques (perhaps it was a steroids vs. HGH thing?), too. Plus, they perform most of the soundtrack themselves? Four of the six songs are written by the Barbarians, and while it’s safe to say they’re never going to win a Grammy, just the effort they must have had to expend to get the producers to agree to it is sort of impressive.
It is, almost entirely, a kids’ movie. The jokes are broad, the slapstick is prevalent, the villains are lame and easily defeated, and there’s no complicated emotional stuff (the teacher, for example, seems quite happy to be dating both brothers).
Perhaps this is to do with the director, one John Paragon, who’s much more famous as an actor, having been in “Pee Wee’s Playhouse”, “Seinfeld” and many other things. There’s that same colourful, bizarre spirit at play here, and even if it’s not always that funny to a slightly tired middle-aged man, I imagine there are kids who’d love this stuff. Respect to the sound effect guy, as he was really making an effort, respect to the Paul brothers, who were having a grand old time, and while it may not be a movie to remember when you’re old and gray, it tries. Too hard, at times, but it tries. Exuberant, is a fine word for it.
Rating: thumbs up