Saturday, June 27, 2015
Movie Review: The Identical (2014)
Posted By Pam On Saturday, June 27, 2015
Do you ever stop to think about what may have become of Elvis' twin brother had he lived? No? Well, not to worry, because someone in Hollywood did, and the result is The Identical, a really awful flick and not-so-thinly-disguised ripoff of The King's life that only earned $1.6M at the box office when it was released last year.
There's only two good reasons to watch this movie. First, if you're planning on becoming a film maker it makes an excellent study of what not to do when telling a story. Second, if you're an Elvis fan, you may just appreciate Blake Rayne, who portrays both twins. He looks like Elvis, but more importantly, he sounds a lot like him, even when being forced to sing silly fabricated 1950s rockabilly songs with uninspired lyrics such as, "Dance dance dance, everybody now!" and "Bee bopping baby, you know she can go go go!" It made me wish the moviemakers had just forked over enough money for the right to use Elvis' songs, not that it would have improved much. Another song definitely sounds like it was lifted straight out of the '80s, not the '50s, proving that little effort was put into the soundtrack.
The movie co-stars Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta. Oh, wait. The same Ray Liotta whose career truly nosedived after he allowed Anthony Hopkins to slice off and cook a piece of his brain in Hannibal. Throw in Seth Green and Joe Pantoliano, because they apparently had nothing better to do, and you've got yourself a rock and roll film.
The movie begins in the year 1935. A poor newlywed couple have twin baby boys and knowing that they cannot afford to care for both of them, decide to give one of the babies to a reverend and his wife (Liotta and Judd) to raise because they cannot have children of their own. Reverend Reece Wade and Louise Wade name the child Ryan, while the baby staying with the biological parents is named Drexel...Drexel Helmsley, because the writers couldn't come up with another surname that doesn't sound like "Presley."
Ryan's parents soon discover that the boy is gifted with a singing voice, and Daddy Fire-and-Brimstone (Liotta screams every sermon in the film) has plans for Ryan to follow in his footsteps. But when Ryan discovers a mysterious new singer on the rise that looks and sounds just like him, Drexel Helmsley, he decides that he wants to get into the music biz, too. He performs at a local honky tonk which sets his father into a tizzy.
What's weird about this movie (among many things) is the fact that we don't see much of Drexel's life and career; mostly only Ryan's, except for a television appearance and a clip from a surfer film (where he sings another lame made-up song while surrounded by girls in bikinis.) Thus, I was confused during scenes where Ryan--or is it Drexel?--enters the Army and plays guitar for his drill sergeant and when Drexel and Ryan's biological mother is dying in the hospital and we see Ryan visiting with her after making a package delivery. But I guess it doesn't matter.
Eventually Ryan enters (and of course, wins) a Drexel Helmsley lookalike contest where one of the judges is none other than Helmsley himself (who has been branded "The Dream" by record executives and the media.) Ryan lands the gig and soon becomes nearly as big as Drexel himself, making a fortune playing state fairs and getting mobbed by fans. When Drexel dies in a plane crash in the '70s, Ryan soon learns the truth about his background and comes face to face with his biological father. (I doubt that anyone could be upset with me for revealing the completely predictable ending.)
The film probably would have worked had the writers skipped the Depression era tale and simply made this a comedy about an Elvis impersonator. Unsurprisingly, the lead, Blake Rayne, is an Elvis impersonator offscreen and was discovered accidentally by one of the movie's producers. A bit 'o trivia for you...according to the IMDB, Rayne's real name is Ryan Pelton but he chose Blake Rayne for his stage moniker because in his opinion it sounds a lot like Bruce Wayne...he's a Batman fan, after all. I swear I'm not making this up! The IMDB also reveals that during one scene he broke down crying so hard his fake mustache fell off.
Which sadly, is more riveting than the movie itself. Seth Green and Joe Pantoliano are in this heartbreak hotel hot mess just to fill space in the cast, with Green playing Ryan's goofy friend and bandmate and Pantoliano portraying a mechanic that gives Ryan a job. Erin Cottrell plays Ryan's sweet and supportive wife, Jenny, but unfortunately the only notable thing about her role is her '60s and '70s wardrobe.
So, The Identical is so bad it may actually leave you wanting to watch one of Elvis' films, which are a step up in substance. The one good thing I have to say about it is that it's family-friendly; there isn't a single swear word to be found throughout the dialogue.
For what it's worth, here's the trailer: