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The Identical

Blake Rayne as Drexel Hemsley (Katherine Bomboy Thornton)

Movie

The Identical

Giving a negative review to The Identical feels a little like kicking a puppy. The PG movie is inoffensive in its intentions to be a lighthearted frolic that honors faith and family while celebrating the beginnings of good ol’ American rock ’n’ roll—so I feel like an Elvis-hating Scrooge for saying it fails on nearly every count.

Here’s the thing, though—Elvis’ music and movies were fun. This movie that supposes Elvis (or a performer named Drexel Hemsley who looks and sounds very much like him) had an identical twin who grew up as a preacher’s son is not.

Most of its failings come from simple mechanics. From real-life Elvis tribute artist Blake Rayne who plays the twin brothers, to Ray Liotta who apparently buys into the stereotype that all evangelical ministers deliver their messages by pounding pulpits and shouting, the acting is community-theater caliber at best. More harmful to the film’s nostalgic goals is that its original songs, meant to evoke the best of 1950s and 1960s pop, not only sound generic—they don’t jibe with the eras they’re placed in.

The Identical’s biggest problem, however, is that it substitutes clichéd conflict between corny stock characters like a money-grubbing talent agent and a rooted-in-his-ways minister for real narrative development.

The idea that someone with Elvis-level talent may struggle with resentment that he’s wasting his gifts in the local church choir is an intriguing one. The notion that he has a twin who reaches superstardom using the same abilities is even more so. What kind of envy or spiritual growth might result from such an unlikely scenario? The Identical doesn’t seem interested in even the most obvious questions its premise poses, instead expecting a visual trip down memory lane to Graceland to suffice for a real story. Audiences aren’t likely to be won over by the poorly executed impersonation.

Comments

  • Allen Mickle's picture
    Allen Mickle
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 02:30 pm

    It should be noted that italijew, is related to those who made The Identical, so he's a little biased. His comments are a tad caustic as well, in that he assumes that those in charge of World have made a mistake to have this writer and film critic give their review. Since she is a professional film critic who is a Christian, and working for World, I presume she knows how to analyze a biblical worldview. Perhaps, instead of allowing our family bias, we might consider some of the suggestions the reviewer has made.
    It should be noted, the reviewer's job, just because she works for World, is not to just analyze whether movies have a biblical worldview. Reviewing movies for quality is more than that. Just because something has a "Biblical Worldview" doesn't make it automatically good art.

  •  Lily's picture
    Lily
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 02:30 pm

    Thank you TXBearcat, you put that very well.  I was thinking the same thing! 

  • TXBearcat
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 02:30 pm

    Megan, Thank you for your opinion.  I appreciate your honest look at this film.  I still intend to see it and will make up my own mind on the merits (warning I like corny!).  But I am dismayed at the previous comments bashing you simply because you gave an opinion.  The comments seem to be based on the idea that if its "family friendly," or "Christian" then there is no possible way that it might be short of being anything but a wonderful film and if criticized then the motives must be impure.  That is unrealistic.  A comparable analogy is that because we are "Christian" that we are anything but wonderful human beings, which we all know to be false.  We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God and if not for his mercy and grace we would reap our reward of death.  So keep plugging away and thanks again!

  • italijew
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 02:30 pm

    ...Further,
    this critique is void of an ability to recognize a Biblical Worldview - something that I have always (as a subscriber to World for over 20 years!) appreciated about this magazine. Again, since I have not prior to this seen such an inability in World's contributors, it must mean that you are an anomaly there. Have Marvin Olasky and Joel Belz retrain you on exactly What is a Biblical Worldview! Once trained, you will recognize the valuable contribution this movie has made to the culture war we are now engaged in...

    Your brother in Christ,
    italijew
    Proverbs 27:6

  • italijew
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 02:30 pm

    Megan,I respectfully disagree with your whole critique. You should feel like you kicked the puppy!You need to be transferred to another department at World. You seem to be in over your head in the role you now have...