Twin Sitters (1994) — Babysitting goes barbaric

“Man, even their car’s on steroids!”

Al’s rating: I’m going to make a statement. Crop tops on guys were never this popular. I’m sorry, they just weren’t.

Al’s review: Who do you hire to baby-sit young, trouble-making nephews while you’re away? If you answered fun-loving lunkheaded twin bodybuilders, you are clearly John Paragon, writer and director of Twin Sitters! Thanks for reading, John! Twin Sitters marks the final cinematic excursion *cough* of The Barbarian Brothers, Peter and David Paul, the bemulleted and excessively colorful duo of bodybuilders-turned-comedians. Because, y’know, one profession so obviously follows the other.

After debuting in D.C. Cab in 1983, Peter and David starred in several films *cough*cough* together where they attempted to fill the languishing void that had opened in the early nineties American comedy scene for lighthearted, twin-based mischief and mayhem. They were twin police officers, twin truck drivers, twin soldiers, twin barbarians (natch), and, in Twin Sitters, twin enterprising restaurateurs who, you guessed it, become impromptu twin nannies.

This time, Peter and David are the Falcone Brothers, fun-loving but down on their luck bodybuilders (imagine that!) who want to open up their own restaurant. They become local heroes after rescuing children from a gun battle in the park and are hired by a rich witness for the prosecution, Frank Hillhurst. Terrified of what might happen to his family, Hillhurst feels he needs some extra protection for his nephews while he makes his deposition against the evil mob boss, George Lazenby. In return for one week’s service at his mansion, the Falcones will be given all the money they need for their restaurant.

Of course, there’s one thing he fails to mention — the kids are twins too! Oh, the hilarity! The children, Steven and Bradley, have recently lost their parents and are ‘masking their pain’ by waging war against all adults in the only way rambunctious movie children know how: madcap antics!

They’ve raided the warehouse on this one, delivering all the old standbys: projectile foodstuffs, super glue, marbles (does everybody trip on marbles like Charlie Chaplin? Honestly?), and exploding bags of flour before graduating to the always hysterical grand theft auto, attempted murder, and mock suicide. Mock suicides are always funniest when performed by preteens. Will the Barbarian Brothers be able to survive the precocious pranks, protect the kids from the evil failed James Bond, and teach the youngsters a thing or two about life? Only Twin Sitters holds the answers.

If you can’t tell, this is not a terribly good movie. Derivative plot aside, Twin Sitters makes a point of milking every stereotype it can. The cook is a large black woman with a loud mouth and a feisty attitude. The butler is English, and therefore a stuffy and insufferable prig. Continuing down the list, the maid is Hispanic and oversexed, the gardener is Mediterranean and jealous, the Asian twins are martial artists, the black twins talk jive. Rinse and repeat for 94 minutes. Thankfully, not all of the humor is offensive, some is just dumb. They’re bodybuilders so their car is a monster truck! They slip on a banana peel and there’s a goofy sound effect! Ha ha. Ho ho. Retch hurl.

And, yet, despite it all, Twin Sitters is not a complete and total failure. How can I say that after three paragraphs of whining and moaning? Because the Barbarian Brothers themselves are so much fun to watch. These men cannot act, believe me, but the blissful earnestness they tackle every scene with is surprisingly infectious, and, as you watch them, you will, suddenly and inexplicably, be having a good time. These two guys are at ease with each other in a way more serious (or unrelated) actors wouldn’t be, and they just seem so completely thrilled to be making a movie that their enthusiasm is undeniable. Even some of the shakier subplots, like both of them taking turns dating the same woman, are carried up and over their hurdles by Peter and David’s sheer force of personality. For me, this goes a long way towards redeeming Twin Sitters into something semi-watchable and almost entertaining.

I’m not sure where, exactly, the Barbarian Brothers came from. Since their first movie was, as I said, D.C. Cab, I can only assume director Joel Schumacher was trying to recreate Mr. T, and made two assumptions: first, that two muscular, funny-looking meatheads could generate twice the star power of one, and second, that twins are always funny. His mistake, of course, is that neither of these are ever correct. Ever.

Nevertheless, Peter and David Paul existed, wearing as much jewelry and absurd clothing as possible and doing their best to bludgeon themselves into the hearts and minds of the American public. Amazingly, they have charisma, more than I would have ever given them credit for, but it can’t save Twin Sitters from being an utter disaster and a laughable piece of early nineties schlock. It’s stupid and silly, but possesses enough charm to raise itself out of the dregs at the bottom of the coffee pot and into the realm of that last cup you drink where it’s more bitter than you’d probably want and coffee grounds are getting stuck in your teeth but you keep drinking it anyway because, hey, it’s coffee and you like coffee. So, take from that what you will and enjoy yourselves some Twin Sitters.

Justin’s rating: Double double your excitement

Justin’s review: If there was a popular trend toward tolerating and emulating the Barbarian Brothers (Peter and David Paul), I must have missed it. Apparently these super-lunkheads over-indulged at the gym, refused to go to a barber, and decided along the way that they were actors. I’m not sure what their appeal is other than “being bodybuilding twins,” but they got into 11 films and starred in at least four of them, so obviously something was really wrong with the world in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

In 1994, the pair headlined Twin Sitters, a film that ostensibly should be a light-hearted kid comedy but ended up taking a wrong turn into the surreal. You think you know what you’re getting coming into this — but you’d only be partially right and a whole lot wrong.

Peter and David are aspiring restaurant owners who one day save a whole bunch of kids at a playground from mobsters shooting up the place with machine guns and shotguns. As your brain stutters to handle this rather dark start to the day, the twins get hired by a mob informant to watch his adopted nephews. Who are also twins, it should be mentioned. “Twins” is a big thing with this movie, and you best find a lot of delight in the subject, because otherwise you’re bound to be staring stone-faced at the screen while the movie waves frantically in their direction and goes, “Eh? EHH?”

The kids are total Dennis the Menace brats who initially hate their new sitters and enjoy playing pranks like, um, pretending to realistically hang themselves? And attempt to electrocute the brothers in the pool? But really, David and Peter aren’t any better, because they commit felonies left and right as they tie up the kids, cause them to get in a car crash, force-feed a banker lasagna, and, at one point, run over federal agent cars with their monster truck. So the kids are jerks to the brothers, and the brothers are jerks to the kids, and eventually this kind of makes everyone get along?

Sure. Whatever. Let’s ignore the fact that these kids just had their parents die in a car crash six months ago and are still grieving and acting out. But that’s OK, just jump spaghetti on their heads. That’ll help them get over those icky feelings.

This all might sound pretty standard, but none of this is framed or handled in a way that is consistently lighthearted and amusing. For one thing, there’s a much darker plot of the boys’ uncle becoming a federal witness who the mob keeps trying to kill. There are actual murders that happen, not to mention kidnappings and assault. And I should mention some not-safe-for-kids swearing and sexual innuendo that appears out of nowhere.

Then there’s the bizarre costumes and unstable behavior of the Barbarian Bros, some of which is amusing and some of which is simply head-scratching. I’ll admit that they got a laugh or two out of me, but most of the time they just puzzled me. I could never get what they were going for, nor whether we are supposed to think that they’re competent or lucky despite their incompetence.

I mean, if you’re in a mood for a movie that’ll surprise you with unpredictable moments and give you so much tonal whiplash that you’ll be wearing a neck brace for the next week, Twin Sitters is where it’s at. It’s probably the only film that I’ll remember not for what was said or did but because of distracting outfits pieced together with so much randomness that the grunge movement was born literally the next day.

Didja Notice?

  • All the food jokes? They eat a lot in this movie.
  • The Falcone’s license plate: TOOO BIG
  • Super Mario World! These kids have the coolest stuff…
  • Is that a Chuckie doll in Bradley and Steven’s room?
  • Jack Bauer’s brother’s wife from 24 as the romantic interest?
  • Nitro from American Gladiators as the head assassin?
  • That Dr Pepper clearly paid money for their endorsement in this movie? Suckers.
  • The mutant mask from This Island Earth?
  • The “Not!” Joke? Thanks 1994!
  • In the closing credits, they call the film by it’s original title, “The Baby Sitters”

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