The Identical Review

Schoolhouse Rock…For Special Needs Kids

Sometimes you watch a movie not knowing much about it before going in. I heard from a certain reviewer that a little film called The Identical was the Best WORST Movie he has seen this year. After leaving the theater, I concur. This is GLORIOUSLY awful!

We follow the life of a small town boy raised by his Christian Evangelist parents played by Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd (talk about slumming it). Said boy is Ryan Wade played by a former Elvis impersonator / contender for worst actor since Tommy Wisseau. Ryan dreams of being a musician despite his father’s desire to be a pastor like him, and is inspired to pursue his dream when his identical twin brother separated from him at birth becomes an Elvis like sensation and…oh my God I can’t keep going without bursting into laughter.

This plot goes everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The film plays on the conspiracy theory that Elvis’ stillborn identical twin never died but given up for adoption. Strangely, rather than using Elvis Presley’s name and music, they create an alternate character in his place with Drexel “The Dream” Wesley as the rising star. The likely reason for this is that the filmmakers have had been writing songs for generations and wanted to use their own music in the film.

To be fair, it’s a pretty clever idea but it would help if the music was any good. Given the fact that the family has been writing the same music for generations without the songs going anywhere, it would not surprise you to learn that the music is kind of atrocious. There appears to be clear influences from the 80s with some of the lyrics, even though this music is supposed to be from the 60s and 70s time periods. But these lyrics range from uninspired to nails-on-the-chalkboard torture with instrumentals that are just lazily copy-pasted from old rock and roll tracks.

But the music isn’t the only thing keeping this train wreck down, because the film is very much intended for a “faith-based” audience in the same vein of Heaven is Real, God is Dead, and the ever-important The Passion of the Christ. However, the faith-based message these films usually have is pretty unmistakable in advertising for the flicks and carries through in the movies. That does not happen for The Identical since the advertising makes no mention of any Christian messages.

And the film itself handles it’s Christian messages hysterically clumsily. Among the messages is an out-of-nowhere scene that shows support for Israel during the Six-Day War. You may be asking how does this tie into the journey of our characters. The answer: it doesn’t at all. The film stops dead for five minutes to explain how Israel is awesome; thereafter this plot point is quickly forgotten thereafter and never comes up again.

My guess is that the Evangelical producers wanted the film to include some message about Israel no matter how clumsily inserted or out of place it felt because they have some odd Christian Zionist message that they adhere to. Probably a good reason why you should never let a producer contribute ideas to a movie, since it can make it go from “Bad” to “Oh Fuck No.”

Regardless, clumsy message handling and crap music aside, the movie could have still been barely watchable with some decent performances but every cast member is sacked into the black hole that is Blake Rayne’s acting. The dude was apparently a former Elvis impersonator and by God he actually looks just like him, but the guy can’t sing nor can he freaking act. Every line is delivered in a dead pan Elvis-Southern accent that he can’t always maintain. Every actor in this piece is hysterical in trying to act opposite of this clown. But nothing can save them.

Hey, it’s hard to do a decent job when you have a crap director who can’t even direct his extras to dance to the right music. The production values are painfully cheap with video quality of old school televisions and movie theaters looking like they are from modern times lacking any grain or poor resolution seen in those images. And the script. Sweet merciful God, never let anyone tell you can’t write something decent because this clown managed to make one one of the worst screenplays in modern history. They can’t even keep their central conceit that Elvis Presley does not exist in their universe by uttering his name out out of nowhere! I could keep going but you get the idea. This is one one of the worst movies of of the year, and if you love watching bad movies like Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Room, you are going to LOVE this movie. Other than that, this movie is….


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