Double Whammy (2001) / Comedy-Thriller
aka Bad Luck
MPAA Rated: R for language, violence, some sexuality, and drug use
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Denis Leary, Elizabeth Hurley, Luis Guzman, Melonie Diaz, Steve Buscemi, Victor Argo, Chris Noth, Maurice G. Smith, Keith Nobbs, Donald Faison
Director: Tom DiCillo
Screenplay: Tom DiCillo
Review published July 30, 2004
It's hard to believe that a movie as poor as Double Whammy would ever be made by such a credible film maker like Tom DiCillo (Living in Oblivion, Box of Moon Light), yet here it is, a sloppy piece of head-scratching ineptitude for all to ponder. The reasons why things don't work out have little to do with DiCillo's talent as a writer or director, and with a competent and appealing cast, the fault doesn't really lie with them either. The problems stem strictly on the conceptual level, beginning with a flimsy and silly idea for a story, further compounded by introducing side elements that have nothing to do with the main story at large, and worse, do little to entertain. It wouldn't be so bad if this were just poorly written or directed with little intelligence -- Double Whammy has the irony of being even worse because it is clear that everyone in the cast and crew thinks they are really making a great movie! Had this played for broad laughs or as a knowingly cheesy thriller, it would have been merely forgettable fodder, but stylish direction, solid acting and good characterizations only make the film's faults all the more glaring. You couldn't intentionally make a movie this bad -- that's how off the mark it is.
Denis Leary (The Thomas Crown Affair, The MatchMaker) stars as New York detective, Ray Pluto, down and out after the tragic loss of his wife and daughter in a fluke accident. A sore back makes him ineffectual during a fast food restaurant shooting, where he loses the handle on his gun only for a young boy to pick it up and save the day. Pluto becomes the butt of everyone's jokes, and is raked over the coals all over the local papers and on television, and to avoid future embarrassment, he is ordered to see a chiropractor (Hurley, Bedazzled). Meanwhile, the super of his building (Guzman, Boogie Nights) finds himself in a bit of trouble, as his precocious teenage daughter has hired two thugs to take him out so she can get out from under the thumb of her domineering dad. Oh yeah, in the same building, a couple of wanna-be Tarantinos are trying to put together a screenplay for that they hope will make them all the rage in Cannes.
One of the bigger problems with Double Whammy is the seemingly random characters and storylines thrown in the mix. Actually, I'm not really sure what the main plot is and which are side plots, as they all get equal screen time, but none really develop into anything particularly meaningful. The tone is all wrong. For a thriller, the music and romance provide too much levity to take any of it very seriously. For a comedy, the violent subject matter is just too dark at times, as murderous elements creep in that don't jibe with the levity of the rest. The romance angle is completely superfluous, while bewildering conversations with Steve Buscemi's character about whether or not he is gay defy comprehension in a film that has nothing to do with it.
Despite the cast and proven director, this one went straight to video, and for good reason. It's quite possible that only DiCillo knows what kind of movie he tried to make here, because to the untrained eye, it looks like a three different movies jumbled together, and not very good ones at that. Don't press your luck, because this Double Whammy is guaranteed to take not only your money, but waste your time as well.
©2004 Vince Leo