On the movie screen, brothers are busting out all over. Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise portray them in ``Rain Man,'' and the recent ``Dead Ringers'' gave us a pair of demented twin doctors. Now it's time for the lighter side of siblings, courtesy of a new comedy from Ivan Reitman, who made the superhit ``Ghostbusters.'' It's called ``Twins,'' and it's based on an idea so amusing that you wonder why nobody thought of it earlier. Watching it, you can almost hear the studio executives working out the gimmick: Who are two of the most popular personalities in Hollywood today? It's hard to beat muscular Arnold Schwarzenegger and dumpy Danny DeVito, both of whom are loaded with sheer star power. Of course, they're so different it would be impossible to put them in a movie together. But hold on - what if that was the point? What if they were not only a team, but members of the same family? Brothers, even! In fact, how about twins?
There's a phrase in Hollywood to describe movies like this: ``high concept,'' meaning the basic idea can be described in a sentence or two. Usually high-concept movies tend to be silly and superficial, precisely because they're based on one simple and unsophisticated notion. But simple and unsophisticated can be fun once in a while, especially in the holiday season.
There's also such a thing as inspired silliness. And that's where ``Twins'' comes in. It's no masterpiece, but it has such a good heart - and such a goofy kind of charm - that it's hard to resist, even when it goes on too long and pours on the story twists a little too thick.
The plot begins with a science-fiction flavor. A brilliant scientist once conducted a genetic experiment aimed at creating a ``perfect human being'' who'd be physically, mentally, and spiritually superior to the rest of us merely undesigned folks. The result of this project was a baby who's grown up into - who else? - Arnold Schwarzenegger.
But something else happened that wasn't in the plan: A twin was born, and he embodied all the yucky characteristics his brother didn't have. The two grew up separately, but one fine day the superior twin learns about his brother for the first time, and sets off to find him. The two become friends, and an odder odd couple you'll never see.
``Twins'' would be a tighter movie, and maybe a funnier one, if it didn't have so many subplots to keep track of.
The brothers not only find each other, learn to like each other, and fall in love with perfectly matching twin sisters; they also get involved with two different sets of criminals - courtesy of DeVito's twin, naturally - and set off in search of their parents.
This is too much for one comedy to handle, and the screenplay doesn't bother to tie up all the loose ends; some parts of the story are simply left dangling, while other parts are kissed off with sentimental clich'es at the last minute.
``Twins'' is charming much of the time, though, especially when Schwarzenegger shows a strong talent for self-mocking humor. DeVito makes an ideal partner for him, too, full of big talk and secret vulnerability.
``Twins'' is as silly as they come, but it's also sweet and energetically acted. And this is one new comedy team that could have a very bright future.