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Case Number 02865: Small Claims Court

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Double Whammy

Lionsgate // 2001 // 93 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // May 9th, 2003

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All Rise...

The Charge

"In yo face!"

The Case

Straight up, this is one of the dumbest films I've ever had the misfortune of watching. Sorry to use such a clichéd phrase, but it's appropriate for talking about this film. Double Whammy is so completely dull, so impossibly mechanic, so unquestionably unimaginative, and so thoroughly unfulfilling that I'm certainly not surprised to discover that it never received a theatrical release. We can all thank an enlightened test audience for rightfully giving it less than stellar marks and saving the rest of humanity from this drivel. I have to wonder how the devil Denis Leary, Elizabeth Hurley, Steve Buscemi, and Chris Noth were talked into doing such am imbecilic piece of dreck? Only their managers will ever know, and I'm sure this film will be quickly erased from all of their résumés.

The plot is a disjointed mess as we attempt to follow a few days in the life of Detective Ray Pluto (Denis Leary). Having not prevented a massacre at a fast food restaurant due to his bad back (!), Pluto becomes an instant pariah. His biorhythms must be in a down cycle as nothing gets better, and Pluto shuffles from one situation to the next, always a few minutes too late. He's always in the right place at the wrong time, and is labeled "loser cop" by the New York papers. With work going so poorly, the rest of his life quickly joins the downward spiral. Adding to this dilemma are his partner (Steve Buscemi), who is experiencing a sexual identity crisis; his non-existent love life; his back pain; and his addiction to smoking a little hash while watching "soft porn exercise shows." Intersecting into this bad life are a variety of one-dimensional characters: his hot chiropractor (Elizabeth Hurley), his building super and his daughter, two idiotic wannabe screenwriters, and two moronic thugs. These people muddle the situation and create a metaphorical crossroads via an unwieldy mix of teenage angst, attempted murder, and writing a potential movie screenplay.

Please, don't ask me to explain what the title has to do with anything in this movie, for very little in this movie makes any sense. It's truly a collection of randomly intersecting stories that never bear out into a cohesive and satisfying resolution. It's all setup and no payoff, as Detective Pluto is portrayed as "loser cop" and fails to solve a crime in his own building, among many other indignities. Along the way, you're treated to stilted performances of wandering dialogue all packaged with rote direction. I really am at a loss at how this movie was made, why semi-big names starred in it, and why a studio would even be interested in buying the rights to it. I know Leary can play a cop; he's done immensely better work in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) and even the ill-fated TV show The Job. And Steve Buscemi? He must have been blackmailed into doing this picture, because there's no logical reason for him to be here. Thank goodness he plays a very supporting role, as his performance is no better than just being there.

For this straight-to-video dud, you get a decent though flawed package. The video is an unexceptional widescreen presentation that is a touch soft with an abundance of dirt and grain and some occasional shimmering. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is far better with a satisfying mix that truly kicks in with the soundtrack. Unfortunately, this isn't a bare bones disc and I had to suffer through (most of) a commentary track with director/writer Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion) and New York Newsday film critic John Anderson. I am thoroughly amazed at how clueless these two are in their conversation. While I understand pride in one's work, DiCillo refuses to acknowledge that he created a terrible film. He sulks that it never made it to the theater; he's jealous of other high-profile directors; he's bitter about the entire movie making process, and he's simply far too serious in discussing this trifle of a film. In his words, Double Whammy is "film as a cartoon for adults." However, it was "too smart for a distributor to have any faith in the audience" to understand what he did. This is ego unbounded! I think the test audience understood quite well that this is a lousy film, and they graded it as such during their preview. But what I find most amusing in all of this is the fact that this film is billed as "a comedy about a detective with everything but a clue." Funny thing is, I didn't laugh once in this cliché-ridden monstrosity.

As you've obviously deduced, I thoroughly disliked this film. Hence, I strongly suggest that you do not buy or even rent this awful piece of cinema. It is lacking in any entertainment value, and should be avoided with all due diligence.

Case adjourned.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: Lionsgate
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Crime

Distinguishing Marks

• Audio Commentary with Directory/Writer Tim DiCillo and Film Critic John Anderson
• Trailers: Double Whammy, Box of Moonlight, and The Dead Zone


• IMDb

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