Sony // 2003 // 91 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Bill Treadway (Retired) // January 15th, 2004
From the creators of American Idol and such films as From Justin to Kelly and Spice World (as if that could possibly be a good omen)
The film (I'm cringing as I write this) deals with the popular British pop vocal group S-Club. S-Club is comprised of four girls (Tina Barrett, Rachel Stevens, Hannah Spearitt and Jo O'Meara) and two guys (Bradley McIntosh, Jon Lee). There is a group of clones masquerading as the group during their American tour and S-Club only gradually figures it out. It turns out that the ploy is the brainchild of mad scientist Victor who decides to conquer the world by cloning popular music stars and using the airwaves to spout his evil message. He has already cloned stars such as Elton John and Michael Jackson (groan!) and has countless others ready for action.
This movie is even worse than From Justin to Kelly and Spice World. This is a shame, since while those films showcased a bunch of no-talents, S-Club is a genuinely talented group. They all have good chemistry together, look good, and their music actually has some depth to it that is not usually found in many modern pop groups. (Author's note: according to the Internet Movie Database, the group broke up for good after this film's release!)
What defeats them is a pathetic script by Kim Fuller, brother of Simon Fuller, who discovered the aforementioned artists. The writing credits say "Written by Kim Fuller and Paul Alexander," but this film features so many of the typically awful traits associated with Fuller's writing that I have a feeling Alexander's contributions do not amount to much. Fuller has no ear for dialogue, saddling the group with cheesy lines that young girls wouldn't use when playing with their Barbie and Ken dolls. He has no sense of plotting, since he uses up all of his ideas in the first twenty pages of the script. Fuller has also saddled the group with an unbelievable and often dumb storyline for their debut feature. Cloning may be a hot topic, but in a light musical, it's just too heavy-handed. Is there even a good film about cloning? Maybe Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but that one was science fiction, not an ersatz musical.
Perhaps it is unfair to compare Seeing Double with the Beatles' classic A Hard Day's Night. But there have been good films made by other British pop groups that were admittedly slight but fun and engaging: The Ghost Goes Gear (1966) featuring the Spencer Davis Group (which gave Steve Winwood his start); Having a Wild Weekend (1965) featuring The Dave Clark Five and which gave John Boorman his directorial debut was another. And let us not forget the two underrated Herman's Hermits films: Hold On (1966) and Mrs. Brown, You've Got A Lovely Daughter (1968). But those films remembered to retain what made the aforementioned groups so appealing and popular. Unfortunately for S Club, the Fullers care more about a quick money trip rather than making a good film.
Speaking of A Hard Day's Night, in that film, director Richard Lester captured to perfection what made the Beatles so special with strong camerawork and excellent compositions. Seeing Double's director, Nigel Dick, makes awkward cuts between the performances and odd montages of other moments that have nothing to do with the music or plot of the film. He has no clue on how to direct his inexperienced actors and the looks of discomfort on their faces while muttering Kim Fuller's horrible dialogue is a sad sight to see.
The full frame transfer is fairly clean for low budget dreck such as this. If there's one asset in S Club: Seeing Double, it's the cinematography. The transfer features few artifacts such as dirt and scratches, but there is some grain during night or dark scenes. Colors are strong and shadow work is surprisingly good for a film of this type. Columbia has given this a first rate transfer. Too bad they can't do the same for some of their bona fide classics.
Most music-themed films or programs feature Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround stereo. Seeing Double is no different, but unfortunately, this disc strikes out in this department. It's bad enough the movie doesn't feature many of the group's songs, but the few that do show up sound poorly mixed. The music is always louder than the vocals and that is not a good thing when your featured group is a pop vocal group. Even sadder is that these vocalists have good singing voices, when you're actually allowed to listen to the vocals.
Extras include cast and crew interviews and a behind the scenes featurette. The baffling thing is that the filmmakers actually think this film is good! Director Nigel Dick comes across as way too self-congratulatory. If his ego were any bigger, these extras would have to be letterboxed in 2.35:1 just to accommodate his swollen head. The six S-Club members are all interviewed but don't have anything of value or worth to say.
A photo gallery, trivia and facts, and DVD-ROM games are also included. These are for fans only, as the casual viewer won't find them worthwhile.
My advice to parents: if your children or teenagers already watch the S-Club TV series, then there is no need to spend money on this abomination of a film. There are superior entertainments available and spending the suggested $19.99 retail on this is absurd.
S-Club is urged to find a new agent. But now that they've broken up, I guess that's a moot point.
The filmmakers are all found guilty. They actually think this is a film to be proud of, so it's obvious they need a film education, super pronto.
Kim Fuller is sentenced to actually learn how to write a screenplay instead of the dreck he keeps churning out. Or better yet, he is sentenced to never write a screenplay ever again.
Review content copyright © 2004 Bill Treadway; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* S Club Trivia and Facts
* Behind the Scenes Featurette
* Cast and Crew Interviews
* Photo Gallery
* Theatrical Trailers