Right off the bat, you sort of know what you’re getting into with this movie, because there are John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John on the root menu, smiling, with matching feathered hair and Olivia Newton-John in blue ’80s sunglasses. So brace yourselves.
I’d like to mention real fast that I was SO excited to see this movie when it came out. I was eight, and I loved “Grease,” and thought Olivia Newton-John was so pretty and sweet and had the most beautiful Australian accent! She reminded me of my mom. Not that my mom has an Australian accent (too bad). But all this is to say that when I saw this, on a near-empty airplane back when I still loved to fly, as an eight-year-old who loved all movies for the most part, even then I realized that this was not so good.
“Two of a Kind” opens with clouds and the “Hallelujah” chorus. Angels are playing golf and fighting about fried chicken. Anyway, they continue to fight as they arrive in the presence of that lady from “Poltergeist” who was one of those paranormal researchers, and I guess this lady existed in the ’80s to pal around with the boys, while providing much-needed feminine guidance.
Now here is God, who happens to be voiced by Gene Hackman! And he’s really mad, because everyone’s so crappy and he wants to start the world all over and he’s gonna flood the place, even though he promised not to. And the angels are like noooooo there are good people, and Gene Hackman is like, “Show me one good person.”
Oh I’d just like to point out that we never actually SEE Gene Hackman, or the movie would automatically be a little bit awesome. We just hear his voice. So he is saying to find one good person, as we —
— CUT! To John Travolta fully ON, like he is the complete mack DADDY in his purple shirt and blue sunglasses from the root menu and tight black pants and feathered hair. He is very, very dreamy, as should be obvious. And he is outside the Museum of Natural History, and Olivia Newton-John is singing on the soundtrack.
Here are loan sharks! Since it was the ’80s and all. There are two, a Nice Loan Shark and a Mean Loan Shark, who is in charge. Mean Loan Shark holds up this really weird knife to John Travolta right in the middle of the day and I can’t even explain to you how fluffy Travolta’s hair is.
ONJ is singing about “desperate times!” on the soundtrack.
Oh, well, sure. John Travolta is an inventor – you know what, screw this. His name is Zack, and ONJ is named Debbie (obviously). So Zack is an inventor and that is going to be his Emotional Character Development vehicle, so just get used to this inventing, because it’s not going away. Remember in the ’80s, when everyone was an inventor, like Zack, and the dad from “Gremlins,” and that one dude who looked like Weird Al and came to my school that one time. I’d like to be an inventor. Anyway, Zack has a voice-activated pet food machine so he can act all cool when he feeds his…cat…and there is an automatic nutcracker for all of his important walnut needs throughout the day. Zack also has a rocking chair, but/therefore busts out with some rockin’ behavior, as he puts a Journey-esque record on, and gets his groove on in his tight pants.
New scene! Zack has a gun and is wearing a blonde wig and a mustache and says the word “foxy.” Because he is a scammer who robs places.
And he is also wearing a jean jacket with jeans.
Oh well here is where fate works its magic, because Debbie is a bank teller! And Zack is all, “Look at my gun,” and Debbie says she only has $600, so Zack makes her get more. There is some cute banter, as normally happens when a man holds you at gunpoint to rob you. Well I say that sarcastically, but there was that one time on “Dawson’s Creek” when Joey got mugged, in one of the most astonishingly awful episodes ever created of television. But see, Zack’s mustache is falling off. Which is about as funny as this movie gets, at any point in time. So Debbie waltzes away all aflutter and comes back with a bag and her phone number written on the bag as she gives him a coy look and this other lady presses the “POLICE” button.
The angels are back, begging for a little more time to get Zack to shape up, and Gene Hackman quotes Richard V.
Oh-ho-ho, Debbie gave Zack fake money AND a fake number and Zack is MAD!
Debbie goes home and she of course also has a cat and she tells her mom she got fired and her mom is like, “Again?” And the landlord shows up and he is drinking in the middle of the day, and is also the guy from “Just Shoot Me.” He wants the rent, so Debbie grabs some cash, because you see, she stole the bank money herself!
Oh, Debbie doesn’t live with her mom, just a weird-sounding roommate who is wearing a suit jacket with the sleeves rolled up.
The loan sharks show up to Zack’s place and he “Home Alones” with his doorbell that sounds like barking dogs, one of whom is named “Vinny,” to sound tough, while Zack escapes through the window and Mean Loan Shark throws Nice Loan Shark through the door. Nice Loan Shark admires all the inventions, and long story short, he has Deep Feelings and isn’t Just A Bad Guy.
Zack has managed to change clothes and do his hair and GTAs a cab.
Car chase in Manhattan! “E.T.” playing in a movie theater — awwww! Zack jumps on the roof of a van! Debbie wearing one of the better ’80s outfits, a turtleneck white baggy sweater and black leggings! And Zack flies through the air and lands on top of her, killing them both!
I’m totally not kidding.
So not only did the angels fail to find a good person, they found a bank-robbing doofus who killed Olivia Newton-John, and then have the unmitigated GALL to ask Gene Hackman to bring Debbie and Zack back to life, and so Gene quotes “The Merchant of Venice” and here is where I am hit with that copper taste of fear in my mouth ™Stephen King, because I realize that they are going for some kind of unironic Shakespearean angle with this movie. You see, Debbie and Zack have to sacrifice their LIVES! For each OTHER! And Gene’s like, you get 2 days, but lets himself get haggled to seven.
Oliver Reed! How about that! He’s playing the devil, but like a vaudeville devil, so just assume that any time he’s lurking around, that there are plenty of hijinx and guffaws.
I am starting to think, based on this cast, that the makers of this movie had terribly scandalous blackmail info on everyone involved. There’s no other explanation, because, dude! Awesome cast! But anyway, Oliver Reed and an angel make a bet over whether Gene Hackman will flood the world again. And really, I’m thinking this whole flood thing is very lazy. Been there, done that, you know? There are plenty of other ways to destroy the universe, Gene Hackman.
Now there are randomly three ladies in bikinis, so of course the angels get all hummina hummina, and Poltergeist Lady has to go, “BOYS!” much like Edna Garrett’s “Girrrrls! Girrrrls!”
Uh-oh! The loan sharks are back, ’cause we’ve rewound time, and Zack steals the car all over again, sadly. Not the most promising start to his moral fibers’ keeping the world nice and dry.
So Zack doesn’t need to fly through the air killing himself and Debbie again, because the angels use a bus to block the loan sharks. Why didn’t they do that before, I wonder, but no time to wonder! Because we must cut to the riveting scene of Debbie reading an article in the New York Post about Zack’s robbing the bank.
Oh, Debbie is an actress, which explains so much. And really, how to describe this scene…this acting class is like therapy or something, because Debbie is standing on the stage, trying to emote and yell at Zack ’cause he made her feel all helpless. And she’s really bad, and the acting teacher is really creepy, and then all of a sudden for no reason whatsoever, Zack is in her acting class in the back of the room! And Debbie starts screaming and freaking out so of course the teacher is like “Yes! Drama! That’s it!” and the other actors are crying, as IF a room full of actors cares that much about another actor’s pain.
Apartment. Now, riddle me this, please. WHY WHY WHY did they bother to establish that Debbie’s a Struggling Actress who doesn’t make rent, and her relief at finally having money, only to have her spend a ton of money on a new entertainment center and assorted crap! But no time to wonder, because Zack is in the apartment! He tells Debbie to go get the money and they have Sexual Tension. But she’s all, “I have none left,” and he’s all, “Liar!” and starts burning all her headshots, and I also don’t understand why she has this portfolio of her in all different poses, but they are all black and white and loose, because are they actress pics, model pics, what! But Debbie does not want her confusing pictures burned. “No! Not those!” Debbie cries, and admits she really has $8,600 left.
Now instead of hurrying the strange man with a gun out of her apartment, Debbie petulantly throws a bunch of cash at Zack, and he says she has some set of balls, unlike him, due to all the tight pants.
And now we get some really weird business involving Debbie’s doorknob. I kind of would like a psychiatric evaluation of the person responsible for this movie, who thinks that nothing says “Let’s get naked!” like when a guy holds you up at gunpoint, not once but twice, then steals your doorknob, and now the “Just Shoot Me” guy is back for comedic effect, because nothing is funnier than a woman’s spinectomy ™TWoP.
So now Debbie is trying to sell Zack all the dumb crap she blew the money on, and Zack’s like, “Listen lady, I’ve got my own problems,” and tells her about the loan sharks and waxes poetic about his inventions, and here are the blue sunglasses again, only they are EDIBLE, and that may just be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life. Debbie says they taste like “shit” (OMG Olivia Newton-John cursing!), but now Zack’s not just a gun-toting criminal; he’s a gun-toting criminal with a softer side because nothing says sensitive like edible sunglasses, and it is for this reason that Debbie invites him to dinner. Unfortunately, Zack does not GTA another cab; rather they just hail one like normal people and Poltergeist Lady is driving the cab, which Debbie directs to the Plaza. Because the only thing smarter than inviting a violent criminal to dinner is inviting a violent criminal to dinner in a hotel.
Super insipid scene. Debbie used to work at the Plaza as a waitress. But she is an ACTRESS! With DREAMS! ARE WE ALL VERY FREAKING CLEAR ON THIS FACT AND CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ALONG???
No. Because Debbie really wants this one role in a Broadway play; it’s down to her and two other girls, and it really MUST be a musical, because no way is Debbie good enough of an actress to do straight theater on Broadway.
If I try to recap this next scene, my nerves will be even more shot than they currently are, so I’ll just give you a few keywords: Oliver Reed. Loan sharks. Brian Dennehy-esque angel warning Oliver Reed that if the world ends, they’ll both be out of jobs. Boobs. Ass. Rewind. Fast-forward. Food fight. Pie in the face. Oliver Reed singing, hooray!
Now Zack is at Debbie’s and she is making tea, and Zack apologizes for leaving her at the Plaza and Debbie lets him in because he smells bad and she calls him really weird and he asks for a towel. GREAT SCENE.
“Just Shoot Me” guy is back, so Debbie slams the door in his face so she can go tend to Zack, who is reading in bed, shirtless. He’s totally Gift of Fear-ing Debbie all over the place, saying he’ll sleep on the couch, but not, then LYING to Debbie and saying her cat got out so he can put on “romantic” music and ask her to dance while I vomit in my mouth.
They dance and kiss. Gross. And just when you think it can’t get grosser, you’ve got voyeur angels watching Zack push Debbie onto the couch, then turn off the light. She tells him to stop and THEN he pulls the bullshittiest of all bullshit maneuvers that no one should be falling for past the age of 22, and tells her that they don’t have to have sex. And when she takes him up on that, he POUTS and they have a conversation where they keep saying “make love” and it is highly disturbing, and then as if he wasn’t evil enough, he gives her the “We have time” speech, but they are interrupted by Roommate and Boyfriend, so Zack and Debbie go on a carriage ride because we’re past the lying and the guns and the robbing and all that and have moved into Carrie and Big territory (though I guess the two relationships are not entirely dissimilar), and Debbie actually asks Zack, “What are you thinking,” and also an angel is driving the carriage.
Montage! Debbie singing on the soundtrack! Fried chicken! Ferry! Digital watch! Windbreaker! Hot pink! Edible sunglasses! Song about “the second time around” and it’s REALLY bad but I think I’d like to sing it at karaoke! Fencing! Portraits! High tea! Magic tricks! Carnations! Serious moment! Tender kissing!
Back to Debbie’s apartment! She missed the call about getting a final callback! Spontaneity is punished. And so obviously, Debbie yells at Zack. Because he was so the paragon of responsibility before this happened. This is why I don’t date Batman. You can’t think you’re gonna change someone, Debbie.
Of course, the spying angels are very upset by this bitch fit of Debbie’s. And Oliver Reed’s trying to make a deal with Mean Loan Shark and calls him Sunshine! Shout out! While an angel throws marshmallows off a building.
Back to the less Dada-esque, but more boring scene of Debbie blaming Zack for losing her bank job, and then Zack makes me wish I had marshmallows of my own to throw, because he’s doing that whole tiresome “poor me” routine that people do when they want their exes to forget the past and love them again.
Here is Mean Loan Shark, holding Debbie and Zack at gunpoint while the door is wide open and instead of having sex with him, Debbie says they have 10 dollars left. Nice Loan Shark believes Debbie and Mean Loan Shark foams at the mouth, he’s so angry, and Nice Loan Shark puts a gun in Mean Loan Shark’s mouth because Zack and Debbie’s deep moral fiber has helped inspire Nice Loan Shark’s frog to triumph over his scorpion.
Now there is a REALLY contrived scene that I refuse to recap; just know that Zack doesn’t trust Debbie implicitly with his life after one week of violence and deception, and Debbie gets so upset that she sings a ballad: “So don’t! Say you’ll be there for me! If you don’t care for me!”
Montage! Zack’s apartment: destroyed! Inventions: gone! Pictures: lopsided!
Oliver Reed is dressed like Captain Kangaroo in this truly remarkable pink suit.
Zack is having one of those movie epiphanies about What Really Matters In Life as he rides the carriage with the angel. He says he loves Debbie, to erase any remaining doubt that he is unbalanced. No offense to Debbie per se; just saying it’s been like, two minutes since they met. Also, aforementioned Gift of Fearing. He brings roses to Debbie at her new waitressing job, and I have NO idea when she got that, or when she had time to go through all the training that would allow her to have her own tables already.
Also, there is a lady wearing pink and gray.
Mr. Carosi from “Saved by the Bell” is lurking around (natch), and Debbie gets held at gunpoint (Drink!), and Zack helps the cops because he is already wearing tight blue pants, so when in Rome.
It’s almost midnight!
Zack starts leaping cars and buildings and climbing fire escapes because it is the ’80s.
Rooftop wrestling! Requisite ’80s hanging-from-a-building/cliff scene, only here it is a building, just so we’re clear. The gunman shoots Zack, but a cop kills the gunman and it is midnight and it is like “West Side Story,” to go with the Shakespearean angles, and you think that Zack is dead, due to being shot and having no pulse. Debbie cries and says she loves him because they totally deserve each other and her love brings Zack back to life, via Gene Hackman. And Zack’s been taking comedy lessons from Turbo and goes, “What happened?”
Oliver Reed and the angel tip their hats, since they now still have a purpose on this planet, and Zack carries Debbie in his arms and her pants are white and completely spotless.
Oh…there is a Shakespeare book on the ground and the angel tosses it to Zack. Yeahhhhh. And then the angel vanishes.
The ending is amazing, both in acting and dialogue:
Debbie: WHERE’D HE GO!
Zack: I DON’T KNOW.
Zack: God, this has been a crazy week!
Debbie: Sure has!