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Friday, January 12, 2001

Twice around

Movie: Double Take

Posted on Fri, Jan 12, 2001 at 4:00 AM

Double Take
Length: 1 hour, 28 minutes
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
Release Date: 2001-01-12
Cast: Orlando Jones, Eddie Griffin, Gary Grubbs
Director: George Gallo
Screenwriter: George Gallo
Music Score: Graeme Revell
WorkNameSort: Double Take
Our Rating: 2.00

There's nothing intrinsically worthless about clichéd comedy; it merely requires great skill in execution.

"Double Take" lacks great skill in execution.

Writer/director George Gallo's cross-country crime caper deals almost exclusively in well-worn entertainment devices, the oldest being the rivalry between the country bumpkin and the city slicker. The twist here (which is rapidly becoming a non-twist due to overuse) is that the bumpkin is a Harvard-educated Wall Street investment banker and the slicker is a streetwise hustler from the projects. Yes, our society, has evolved from idealizing the common-sense rural mind to admiring the quick-witted urban survivor.

Still, it must unnerve Harvard grads to watch alumnus Daryl Chase (Orlando Jones of "The Replacements") be repeatedly fooled by transparently untruthful characters. When the apparent killing of his secretary makes Daryl a murder suspect, he sets off for Mexico. Though he's in the company of a duplicitous hustler named Freddy Tiffany (Eddie Griffin, a veteran of the TV series "Malcolm & Eddie"), Daryl's acquired wisdom is negligible. Those getting the best of him on the trip include thugs posing as cops, cops posing as thugs, crooks posing as bosses and wits posing as idiots. The only actual idiot, however, is the one with the expensive suit, Harvard degree and good diction.

Filmmaker Gallo drops this set of conventional comedy devices into another familiar scenario, that of the drug lord who abuses various political and law-enforcement systems for his own corrupt ends. There are about a dozen plot complications at each turn, all of them determined solely by the whims of the writer, rather than any narrative sensibility or character development. Whenever the plot becomes threatened by logic, Gallo injects energetic exchanges of automatic and semiautomatic weapons fire, punctuated by exploding automobiles. At one point, he interrupts the gunfire with lingering shots of a bottle-blond country singer, thus making a statement about ... well, something. Or maybe not.

Daryl and Freddy bicker endlessly, sometimes resembling contentious marrieds or quarreling siblings. Both Jones and Griffin do their best with the material, which is so consistently over-the-top that the existence of an actual "top" is called into question.

It's almost inconceivable that this is the same Gallo who made his reputation as a writer of "Midnight Run," a classic among buddy/chase flicks. Yet here he is now, churning out one cliché at a time. Some jokes don't get better; they just get older.


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