Plot: Born in Alabama during the Great Depression, identical twin boys are separated at birth. While one becomes a massive rock star, the adopted son (Blake Rayne) is raised by a Reverend (Ray Liotta) and his wife (Ashley Judd). Ryan also dreams of becoming a musician, but must fight against his father who disapproves, and the shadow of his twin brother, who he doesn’t even know is his brother.
Watching The Identical made me want to go home and watch better music based movies like That Thing You Do! or Walk the Line. While the first half hour is pretty rough, the film does get better, and is at least entertaining. Even though this feels like a TV movie (which is where it should have gone), and the plot is fairly flimsy, I cared about the characters. That’s more than you can say for a lot of movies out there, so I guess that’s something.
Like I said, the first act is pretty terrible. The movie is on total life support. The dialogue and acting are so flat and generic, it made me want to run up to the screen with a defibrillator and yell “Clear!” Ray Liotta is funny though, because in his first scene he’s overacting and shouting all his lines. It’s almost as if he knew everybody was falling asleep while making this, so he had to wake everybody up. The veterans like Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, and Joe Pantoliano are all pretty solid, making the best out of an underwritten film. Pantoliano is an especially welcome addition, as he develops a mentor relationship with the main character Ryan, as both guys work as car mechanics. These were nice scenes, and it’s scenes like these that make it hard to hate the film.
Speaking of the main character, actor Blake Rayne was sort of a mixed bag. Just like everything early on with this movie, he was horrible at first. His acting is very uncomfortable, but as the film goes on he gets much better. He’s a very likable protagonist. Rayne plays the dual roles of the twin brothers Ryan and Drexel, although you barely ever see him as Drexel. Both characters are supposed to be Elvis, which was painfully obvious. What’s strange is they make reference to the real Elvis existing in their world, which makes no sense. So, you have a guy imitating a fake version of Elvis, and then his twin brother imitating the fake Elvis? That’s stupid. And besides, there’s only one true Elvis impersonator in my book, and that’s Uncle Jesse. So back off, Blake Rayne.
Seth Green is in the movie and looks older than fifteen, so that’s something. The only other performance of note is Ryan’s girlfriend Jenny, played by Erin Cottrell. Much like the protagonist, she’s very likable and charismatic. They also throw in Danny Woodburn (Mickey from Seinfeld) for one random scene where he gives Ryan a big pep talk. This was completely forced and random, adding to the overall laziness of the script.
The one element you want to be great in this movie is the Elvis style music, which is okay. There were times where it electrified, but other times where it was a complete snore fest. It’s just inconsistent. You look at a better movie like last month’s Get on Up, and it runs circles around The Identical.
For as underwritten as this screenplay was, I do give it credit for keeping you hooked and engaged. Due to the whole plot of this guy not knowing he’s adopted and has a twin, they play those cards close to the vest, so you want to see all those emotional relationships get revealed. The problem is all of them are completely anti-climactic and rushed. The one element you were interested in offers a complete lack of payoff.
While the movie is littered with problems, the characters are so easy to root for that it’s hard for me to hate this movie like so many critics have done. And to its credit, I was never bored. If you caught this on TV, you’d be fine. If you want to see The Identical in theaters though, you better go right now. It may be getting pulled as you read this.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Passable Entertainment)