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Case Number 00342

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Double Jeopardy

Paramount // 1999 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Norman Short (Retired) // February 25th, 2000

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All Rise...

The Charge

Murder isn't always a crime.

Opening Statement

Double Jeopardy is a film that apparently lots of people liked, judging from the box office, so I will attempt to be fair to it here.

Tapauhepajre3apejdkjz;zij'eja[ptye;ajn;cjpehej…Enough of that crap. Hello, folks. I'm Norman's evil twin, and he's tied up right now. I've been patient with his "I'm going to at least be fair to movies" change of heart, hoping it would pass like gas through a lactose intolerant chimp after drinking a gallon of milk. Frankly, I don't believe Norman struggled all that hard to keep me away from his keyboard. So maybe there is hope for him yet. So let me start again. Murder may not always be a crime, but making someone believe this movie is worth watching is. I think the operating title of this piece of putrescent fungi was "Exploitative Crapola" but apparently the studio thought Double Jeopardy was better. Personally I think "Hey, at least you get to see Ashley Judd naked" would have been best.

The Evidence

This is supposed to be where we talk about what is good? Alright then, lets. Ashley Judd is hot, even though she's trying to appear more mom-like and sweet and a bit worn here. Fortunately we get a fully exploitative and gratuitous nude scene. I'm always happy when a director chooses this route, so I can finally satisfy my "curiosity" about a certain actress' anatomy. Too bad the scene doesn't really show you much though, it looks more like it was just there to get a quick shot in the trailer. We'll talk about the trailer later…believe me.

While we're talking about Ashley Judd, I understand why she did this flick. She's a good actress who hasn't been getting her due in roles. Heck, she had a great scene in Natural Born Killers that ended up on the cutting room floor. So here she gets a big studio to give her a lead role where she plays a strong, self-reliant woman. Hard to pass that up. She gets a couple pretty cool action scenes even. Now if only she could have brought in a real writer…

The disc looks and sounds good. I'm going to loosen Norman's gag so he can dictate the technical stuff. I always thought "moiré pattern" was when you get a bunch of girls named Moira to lay down so their outlines make geometric shapes, but apparently it's more technical and less fun than that. This disc doesn't have them, anyway, alas. According to him the disc doesn't have much of anything in the way of "artifacts" or "film defects." I think the film is pretty defective, but apparently that's not the same thing. The colors are vibrant and well saturated without blooming, and there are no edge enhancement problems, according to Norman.

There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is very nice. To quote our temporarily restrained technical expert, the soundstage is wide and deep, using imaging between speakers and frequent use of the discrete surrounds. Directional panning is dead on, and the frequency range reaches down into the lowest octave so you do get some use out of your subwoofer.

Paramount actually gives a couple extras on this one. There is a short featurette that seems to have been directed entirely by the marketing department, and the trailer.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

Alright! This is the part where I get to say what wasn't good. I liked this movie better when I saw it the first time, when it was called The Fugitive. It even has Tommy Lee Jones as the cynical guy chasing down the innocent person running from the law. Okay, so it's a woman this time. And apparently they realized this film wouldn't stand up to the much better and more tense predecessor, so they made his character more seedy and down on his luck, kinda like this film. My biggest surprise is that Mr. Jones agreed to be in this thing at all. Maybe they told him he only needed a weekend for shooting and he could phone the rest in or something. You just know he was about to break out with "I want you to search every roadhouse, henhouse, outhouse, et cetera" at any moment. But he wouldn't have had anyone to say it to, so he would have just looked stupid.

I even liked this movie the second time I saw it, when it lasted three minutes and it was tacked on to the front of another picture. If you've seen the trailer, then you've seen the outcome of every plot device in the movie. Device is the right word for this one too. The plot, such as it is, is so full of holes I saw a couple planes flying through it. Big planes. We got lawyers that work here, and they assured Norman (who is nodding past his gag) that the legal ideas this whole movie depends on are full of crap. So if your husband framed you for killing him, and he's not really dead, you can't go kill him again without getting charged. The legal beagles at Paramount also didn't realize that if you kill somebody, the insurance company doesn't pay off on the policy if you are the beneficiary. So most of the rest of the plot goes right down the toilet. There are some cool scenes in the middle, but since you've already seen the movie you know it's just window dressing for the ending, which you've already seen too. Even if you hadn't seen the trailer frankly by now you already know where the movie is going so there is no suspense at all. Nada.

Somewhere on the net is a piece called "Rules for Evil Overlords." Read it if you ever get a chance. Here are a couple things along that same vein. If you are going to bury your wife alive, search her pockets for a gun or other tool that can enable her to escape first. Or hey, make sure she's dead first, how about that? Or maybe don't try to "bury" her alive above ground. Backing up a bit, if you wake up covered in blood and you see a trail of blood leading to a bloody knife, don't pick it up!

The characters never know if they're smart or just plain stupid during this. They get a flash of brains so they can move on to the next contrived piece then act really stupid when they get there.

Closing Statement

This is your friendly judge Norman again. After beating my twin about the head and shoulders with an Alpha keep case (not the Alpha! No!) and threatening to tie him up and make him watch this movie again we've reached a truce. I don't change what he wrote above and I can put my thoughts here. The movie isn't THAT bad. It's not good, but does have a few redeeming qualities. Ashley Judd (Kiss the Girls, A Time to Kill, Heat) and Bruce Greenwood (The Lost Son, Disturbing Behavior, Father's Day) as the slimeball husband actually put in good performances. Especially considering what they were given to work with. And if you work really hard to suspend your disbelief, the film moves pretty well. Accept all the discrepancies and you can actually enjoy it. Apparently a lot of people did, as this movie made a ton of money in the theater. And I wouldn't be a bit surprised if sales of the title are high despite what us fussy film critics think. But if you care what the critics think, and what I in particular think, give this one a pass. If you liked the movie and want to watch it over and over again *shudder* then the disc has Paramount's usual high quality transfer and soundtrack. It even has minimal extras, which is more than they usually give.

Rob is right. Here we get a day and date release from Paramount of a title that doesn't begin to compare to some of the titles they are still sitting on. Now that they're actually starting to put some extras on the latest Star Trek movies, and consistently do high quality transfers and soundtrack mixes I'm looking forward to some of their catalog titles. Get some of those out quickly so I can forget about this one.

The Verdict

DIE! DIE Paramount DIE! *Thunk* Sorry about that. Paramount shows improvement in the extras department, and this disc is excused for its high technical quality. I can't blame them for getting this one out for day-and-date release since it was a pretty good cash cow at the box office. The film is given a 20-year sentence for assault on my critical faculties, and can apply for parole, like its heroine, in 6 years.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 97
Audio: 95
Extras: 65
Acting: 79
Story: 40
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
• English
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurette
• Trailer


• IMDb

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