Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Identical Review

Historically speaking, Labor Day weekend and the weekend after Labor Day are some of the lowest grossing weekends for the box office. Any movie that ends up opening in that spot is pretty much doomed. Thus was the case this past weekend for The Identical. And it didn't even seem like distributor Freestyle Releasing even cared as they didn't hardly advertise the movie at all. I mean, I'm someone who reads about all kinds of movies and even I had no idea of this movie's existence until a few weeks ago. The result was an opening weekend of only $1.5 million from just under 2,000 locations. That, added to the horrid reviews, almost led me to skip the movie, but for one reason or another I decided to give it a shot. And while I can't say I would've been totally missing out if I had skipped it, I will say that it's a lot better than some are making it out to be.

Given that the movie's advertising was pretty much non-existent and the advertising that did exist didn't clearly portray what this movie is about, allow me to explain. The advertising of the movie almost leads you to believe that this is a biopic of Elvis. It's not. But if not that, you might wonder if it's a biopic of an Elvis impersonator. It's not that, either. In fact, this is a complete work of fiction that's done in biopic form. A Christian drama? Eh. Kinda. But not really. The movie is about a young couple in the 1930's who give birth to twins. However, they can't afford to raise twins. So the father attends a church service wherein the preacher gives a sermon that it's better to give than receive. The preacher also tells the congregation that he and his wife just miscarried and asks the congregation to pray for them. After this experience, the man and his wife feel inspired to give one of their twins to the preacher and his wife. They cover it up by giving a fake funeral procession for the baby they just gave to the preacher. As the story goes, the twin the couple keeps grows up to be a rock 'n' roll star while the twin that grows up with the preacher is trying to find his place in life. His preacher dad wants him to join the ministry, but he wants to go into music. Most of the movie actually follows this twin as he goes through this struggle of finding the balance of doing what he wants while making his dad happy.

So if the movie is not about Elvis and is in fact a complete work of fiction, can we say the movie is at least inspired by the life of Elvis? This answer is a definite yes. Elvis had an identical twin brother that died at birth. This movie is based on idea of what if Elvis' twin actually survived without anyone knowing about it. But done in a weird way where the Elvis equivalent in the movie is the fictional rock star named Drexel Hemsley. The unknown twin of Drexel is Ryan Wade. To add to the confusion, Blake Rayne, who stars as both twins in the movie, is in fact a real life Elvis impersonator. No joke. The man looks and sounds exactly like Elvis and tours the country impersonating Elvis. And that's why he got this role. And that background is funny because Ryan Wade in the movie ends up touring the country impersonating Drexel Hemsley without realizing that they are twins. The songs in the movie are completely original songs. However, they are in the style of Elvis' songs. Confused yet? Yeah, my biggest thing against the movie is that confusion. I don't know why they didn't just do a biopic of Elvis or even a fictional story that proposes Elvis' twin brother survived. They went to great lengths to make this super confusing.

That aside, if you ignore all this confusing Elvis mumbo-jumbo, this really isn't that bad of a movie. Yes it has its flaws, but it's a watchable movie, which is a step above some movies I've seen recently. The acting by Blake Rayne is decent considering the fact that he's not an actor. The drama between him and his preacher dad is actually pretty interesting. I mentioned the fact that it's kind of a Christian drama, but really the only Christian element of it is his dad being a preacher and thus wanting him to follow in his footsteps. But he ultimately decides to follow his own dream instead. So it's really just a musical drama. And being a musical drama, it's not just the drama that succeeds. The music succeeds as well. Yes, it's fake Elvis music. But it's good fake Elvis music. And it's really impressive that they wrote all this good music that sounds as if Elvis could've sang it. And I learned just by watching this movie why Blake Rayne has succeeded as a Elvis impersonator. He's dang at acting like Elvis and just as good at singing like Elvis. It's entertaining to watch. And although this is his first time acting, any freshman acting struggles that he has are made up by excellent supporting cast that consists of Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green and Joe Pantoliano.

Given that this movie did so awful in the box office, it'll probably disappear from theaters rather quickly. Do I suggest that you rush out to see it before it leaves? Meh. You can. If you are bored out of your mind and want and want something new to see, you can definitely do a lot worse than this movie. But it's not something I would call a must see as soon as possible. I saw it because there was nothing else to see and since I went in with very low expectations, I was actually pleasantly surprised. But if you want to wait till Red Box or Netflix, that's perfectly acceptable in this instance. The movie has good acting, good drama and good music, but it's nothing too special and the whole Elvis thing is confusing. They should've just done an Elvis biopic starring Blake Rayne. That would've been so much better. My overall grade for the movie is 7/10.

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