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The Lookalike

Year: 2014
Production Co: Emedia Films
Director: Richard Gray
Producer: Richard Gray/Michelle Davis-Gray
Writer: Richard Gray/Michelle Davis-Gray
Cast: Jerry O'Connell, Justin Long, Gillian Jacobs, John Corbett, Gina Gershon, Luis Guzman

The plot and characters of this comedy thriller – at least that's what I think it was trying to be – were such a huge mess it renders any particular style or creative intention of the film completely invisible.

You're just too sideswiped by all the characters trying to do so many different things. It's a noble effort, and in the right film (like Pulp Fiction), colliding interests between interesting characters can create magic. In fact it's supposed to be the cornerstone of all drama.

It's not very clear what's missing here for The Lookalike to fail at that aim so completely. Maybe rather than all the strands of plot and character obscuring the style there isn't much of a style at all.

To return to the same example, Pulp Fiction had a cinematic language (cool, detached, casual violence) that told the story. The Lookalike just chucks a whole lot of disparate stuff in front of you, and it all ties together clearly enough, it's just not done with any finesse.

Maybe the other problem is that there's no main character (although that was the case with Pulp Fiction too) and you don't know who's what, which way is up or who the bad and good guys are supposed to be – and not in a good way that artfully draws antiheroes like Jules and Vincent, in a bad way that just makes motivations all the more confusing.

Is it about Bobby (a grizzled John Corbett, the romantic hero from My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and his slimy partner, club owners who are about to embark on a huge drug deal that will set them up?

Is it about Joe (Jerry C'Connell), co-owner of their bar who meets and is captivated by the deaf, disabled Mila (Scottie Thompson) even while he plans to leave the life behind and be a successful TV chef? Is it his brother Holt (Justin Long), a drug addict who becomes too close too quickly to the junkie Lacey (Gillian Jacobs) who shows up on Holt's doorstep looking to score from Joe, but who's actually a mole wearing a wire sent by cop Lee (Gina Gershon) in the hope of busting him?

Bobby's big deal depends on a girl sitting in front of him in the early scenes. He knows the guy in charge of the upcoming big opportunity has a thing for the young beauty, so if she goes to bed with the crime lord the deal's on.

But when an unfortunate accident with the building causes her death by chandelier (making you think it's all a comedy), Bobby hatches a plan to find a similar replacement, since the kingpin knows this girl but hasn't seen her in decades.

For some reason I can't remember he sets Joe onto the task, and for another reason I can't remember Holt is dragged into the scam, the whole lot of them somehow convincing Lacey to pose as the replacement girl long enough for the lecherous benefactor behind the big deal to get his comeuppance.

Mila seems to have nothing to do with the rest of the story, and doesn't really affect it until the climax in a swanky hotel, when she becomes a love story plot device. Luis Guzman's in there too as a collector Holt's into for more money than he can pay back thanks to his habit, and the whole thing's a cauldron of idea, tone, character and subplot soup that ultimately doesn't say much.

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