The Identical misses a unique quality
First Posted: 9/9/2014
“The Identical” is not a good movie.
In fact, it is a very, very terrible movie. But with that said, “The Identical” is so sincere, so positive and so earnest, you almost feel bad for disliking it so strongly. At times, you just want to hold the movie in your arms, kiss it tenderly on the forehead and softly whisper in its ear, “Stop trying so hard.” But you can’t. “The Identical” is just a weird, dumb movie and cannot be held or whispered to, sadly.
What if Elvis’ twin brother had not died during childbirth but was instead secretly adopted by a stern but good-hearted reverend (Ray Liotta) and his barren, dewy-eyed wife (Ashley Judd)? That’s the fan-fiction-y premise behind “The Identical” and it’s rendered even more ridiculous by religious overtones that only manage to make the film more muddled and ill-conceived than it needs to be. To give you an idea of just how dumb this movie is, “The Identical’s” Elvis doppelganger is called Drexel “The Dream” Hemsley (as played by Elvis impersonator Blake Rayne). Yes, Drexel “The Dream” Hemsley. Do you know how much effort my mouth has to go through just to say Drexel “The Dream” Hemsley? And why that name, specifically? Did the screenwriters think Pelvis Parsley was too stupid? Because, FYI, Pelvis Parsley still isn’t as stupid or unwieldy as Drexel “The Dream” Hemsley.
At any rate, “The Identical” really isn’t about Drexel “The Dream” Hemsley, it’s actually about his long lost twin brother Ryan Wade (also played by Rayne) who toils away in relative obscurity at his local bible college until he finds his calling as a Drexel impersonator. Unfortunately, the pressures of state-fair level stardom eventually get to Ryan and he soon hits rock bottom when he grows a beard and nearly drinks a tiny amount of whiskey. Thankfully, noted little person Daniel Woodburn serves as “The Identical’s” Dwarf Ex Machina as he gently steers Ryan away from the whiskey-soaked, beard-laden path he’s been treading and closer to the clean-shaven route of righteous godliness that all Drexel (and Elvis!) impersonators must walk.
I have a lot of issues with “The Identical”. Chief amongst these issues is the film’s insistence on casting its Elvis stand-in as a Christ-like figure. It’s an uneasy parallel and comparing these two men rarely functions outside of works of satire because unlike Elvis, Jesus never got so high on pain-killers that he interrupted his Sermon on the Mount with an impromptu karate demonstration. Even more inexplicable is the fact that fake Elvis and his twin are intended to symbolize relations between U.S. and Israel. However, “The Identical” never bothers to explore this concept. Nor does it explain who or what Palestine is supposed to represent. The Beatles? Colonel Tom Parker? That picture where Nixon and Elvis were shaking hands? Weirder still, Elvis Presley apparently exists in the same universe as Drexel “The Dream” Hemsley which doesn’t make any sense. Especially considering that the only thing separating Drexel from Elvis is the fact that Drexel isn’t as good as Elvis.
Still, on the plus side, “The Identical” is easily one of the most unintentionally hilarious films you’ll see this year. Where else will you see Rayne and Seth Green (who both just turned 40) unconvincingly play teenagers? Where else are you going to see Ray Liotta physically devolve until he eventually turns into Jeff Dunham’s angry, farting old man puppet Walter? Where else will you hear songs that aren’t technically songs but the words “rock n’ roll”, “baby” and “go-go-go” repeatedly cooed until they take on a song-like structure? It’s only in “The Identical”. Try not to laugh too hard. After all, making fun of this movie basically ensures you’ll spend your afterlife roasting in eternal hell-fire. Which is why I’m giving “The Identical” four Ws (because God is watching. But after you distract him, I’ll quickly drop it down to one and a half).