In The New York Times, Janet Maslin began her review of the movie with this: “One way to get through ‘Baby Geniuses’ is to think about whether it really is the worst movie you’ve ever seen. Probably not, but pretty darn close.” Roger Ebert called it one of the worst movies of 1999.
When “Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2” wrapped, so did the Fitzgeralds’ big-screen careers.
“They did those two movies, and in between they were typical little boys,” their mother, Janet Fitzgerald, said in a telephone interview from Port Alberni. “Their love was hockey from the day they put skates on when they were like 5 years old. Hockey was their passion. Acting was definitely not their passion.”
Though undersize — Leo is 5 feet 9 inches, Gerry 5-8 and Myles 5-7 — the Fitzgeralds formed such a prolific forward line through junior hockey that they were twice traded as a unit. Their wish to attend college together brought them to Bemidji State, a Division I program in the north woods of Minnesota that made an unexpected run to the Frozen Four in 2009.
Now juniors, the 23-year-old triplets have combined for 15 goals for the 20th-ranked Beavers (16-9-3 over all), who lead the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings by 9 points and seek their first N.C.A.A. tournament berth since 2010.
Research by Bemidji State officials turned up only one other set of triplets on the same college team: Brian, Craig and Glenn Seabury of the University of Massachusetts Lowell from 1989-90.
“In junior hockey, you could just see it — they were rink rats,” Bemidji State Coach Tom Serratore said of the Fitzgeralds. “Those are the kind of guys you want on your team because you never have to motivate them. We really wanted those guys, and we worked on them for a while.”
Serratore mostly kept the Fitzgeralds on the same line their first two seasons, with Myles at left wing, Leo at center and Gerry on right wing. The Beavers captain, Charlie O’Connor, described them as “three fireballs on the ice at once, kind of like three Tasmanian devils.”
But this season Serratore, seeking better offensive balance, moved Myles off the line and installed the senior Brendan Harms on left wing with Leo and Gerry. That line has accounted for 19 of Bemidji State’s 66 goals.
Hockey players can be cruel teasers, and Harms said the Fitzgeralds still took occasional needling about the movies. Serratore, though, has never shown either film on the team bus. For that, the triplets are grateful.
“I’m surprised they haven’t, I’ll be honest,” Leo said. “In juniors they put it on once, and we were pretty embarrassed at the time. We were around 17 years old. They razzed us a little bit, nothing crazy.”
The story of how the Fitzgeralds landed in Hollywood might make a better movie than the ones they appeared in.
Janet Fitzgerald said her sister thought the boys were adorable and urged her to submit photos to a Vancouver talent agency. So she did. A few weeks later, the agency invited them to a casting call in Vancouver for “Baby Geniuses.” The producers sought triplets or twins for the two leading toddler roles.
“We went to the audition and thought nothing would happen,” she said. “But the boys got called back for another interview and audition, and they got the part.”
Five months of filming in Southern California followed. (The sequel was shot in Vancouver.) Their mother said that Turner and her co-star Dom DeLuise were wonderful with the boys, and that she still kept in touch with Jimmy Wagner, a so-called Hollywood baby wrangler who helped the boys learn their dialogue. Gerry remembers rehearsing lines for the second film with Voight in the star’s trailer.
“I didn’t even know who he was at the time,” Gerry said. “I wasn’t very good at it because I was 7 years old, 8 years old. But looking back, it was pretty cool he kind of did that. I got the opportunity to sit down with Jon Voight, a pretty big star.”
But hockey quickly consumed them. Leo took it up first, following their older brother Sheldon, and Gerry and Myles soon joined in. Their mother said she only recently repaired the broken windows and smashed stucco on their house, caused by thousands of pucks sailing high and wide of the net that the boys set up in their carport. She declined to identify the son who destroyed a living room window with a poorly aimed slap shot from the road.
“Our parents asked us if we wanted to keep trying the acting thing or play hockey,” Myles said. “Obviously, we all wanted to play hockey. We were so young at the time to make a decision, but hockey is where we wanted to focus.”
At Bemidji State, it did not take long for teammates and coaches to figure out how to tell the Fitzgeralds apart. (Leo and Myles are identical and Gerry is fraternal, their mother said.) Leo is the tallest, the only left-handed shot, and prefers a clear face shield on his helmet; the others wear the wire-cage style.
Sitting for an interview at the Sanford Center, Bemidji State’s home rink, the Fitzgeralds subtly differentiated themselves. Leo and Gerry wore Bemidji hockey ball caps, Leo with the brim facing forward, Gerry’s backward. Myles sported a Minnesota Twins cap.
“When they first came in, when I first saw them, it was kind of tough to tell who was who,” Harms said. “But once you get to know them, they’ve got three different personalities, three completely different guys. Leo is the most outgoing, for sure. Myles is a little bit quiet, and he’s the smallest one, too. Gerry and Leo are a little similar.”
The Beavers do not score a lot, instead relying on team defense and the standout junior goalie Michael Bitzer. Bemidji State leads Division I in scoring defense at 1.79 goals allowed per game, and penalty killing at 90 percent.
“Everyone knows their roles,” Leo said. “We all come to the rink and want to work. We know what we’ve got to do to win games.”
No acting required.