Double Whammy

Double Whammy; a Tom DiCillo travesty. Presumably the title refers to the script and the acting.

Released in 2001, certified UK-15. Reviewed on 29 Jul 2003 by Craig Eastman
Double Whammy image

Tom DiCillo. The arty crowd love him. Sometimes director, sometimes writer, sometimes cinematographer, sometime soon somebody ought to shoot him. I haven't seen any of his other films, and in all honesty Double Whammy doesn't make me want to rush out and rent any of them. Living in Oblivion garnered praise in it's day, if I remember correctly, and if there's any justice in the world DiCillo may well end up adopting a similar lifestyle. He's the kind of chap who seems to live for the film festivals rather than the film-goers, always staying true to the 'art'. Well, the art just grew teeth and bit him in the flabby arse.

Detective Ray Pluto (Denis Leary sporting the kind of name an Arnie character might have in some twisted, alternate universe) is a good cop with a tragic past and a sore back. The latter point is brought painfully to the fore when, in the film's opening moments, Ray finds himself in the middle of a burger bar massacre. Drawing his gun on the perpetrator, Ray is about to open fire when his back plays up, he drops his gun, slips and knocks himself unconscious on a queue railing. A speccy little eight year old seizes the moment, as well as Tom's gun, and shoots the killer himself, making him an American hero and Ray a figure of national ridicule.

Having shamed the department, his superior puts him on reduced duty, assigning his cases to Detective 'Chick' Dimitri (Sex & The City regular Chris Noth) in the meantime. With plenty of spare time on his hands, Pluto takes a friend's advice and visits chiropractor Dr. Ann Beamer (Liz Hurley), with whom he quickly initiates a romantic partnership. The remainder of the film sees Pluto struggling to regain his good name, consequently involving himself in even more unfortunate bunglings and pouring even more scorn on his persona. And that's about it.

Sure, there's some extraneous plot about his friend and apartment block supervisor Juan Benitez (Luis Guzm?n) being stabbed nearly to death by some thugs paid by his daughter, and Ray's desire to catch them as a personal vendetta, but the basic thrust of the film is to create empathy with a character trapped in infamy by a series of unfortunate circumstances. The question then begs itself; if you want the audience to feel sympathy for someone, why cast Denis Leary?

Double Whammy image

I'm sure Denis is a nice bloke, but I've never once found him to be either sympathetic or indeed funny, which is after all what he's supposedly most famous for. Combine this with a self-consciously wannabe hip script that thinks it's Pulp Fiction meets The Benny Hill Show and you have an utterly obvious recipe for disaster. And why introduce the tired old 'dead wife and kid' clich?? I'm not even going to pin any of the blame here on Liz Hurley either, due to what I now dub "The Hurley Clause"; a law which states we already know Hurley is going to be shite and therefore such prior knowledge exempts her from any criticism. So there you have it, a film in which only Liz Hurley doesn't disappoint.

The remainder of the cast are squandered, even the usually outstanding Steve Buscemi. Left floundering by a horrendously shitty script where every joke is a guaranteed misfire, even he squirms under the uninspired gaze of DiCillo, his 'nerdy' fallback technique unable to save him here. Guzm?n is the only one able to salvage a decent laugh on, I think, two occasions, which is a pretty impressive achievement considering the above points and the fact he's incapacitated in hospital for half the movie.

Another word on DiCillo; for a man who likes to moonlight as a cinematographer Double Whammy shows no evidence of the man having a bloody clue where to point a camera. There's not a single moment of flair here, and he even pulls off the enviable feat of managing to make an opening tracking shot of Brooklyn dull and lifeless. Way to go.

Tippy made the observation that the film opens a lot of plot strands that are never actually resolved, and I have to agree, though I'm secretly hoping these pointless diversions were designed to reflect the very film of which they are a part, kind of in a post-ironic-movie-coming-full-circle-within-itself way. I somehow doubt it. The film itself is a pointless open plot strand that doesn't so much come to a resolution as highlight how unnecessary it is in the first place.

There's plenty more tar-hot scorn I could pour on this clunker but I desperately need to get to my bed. The only good thing I can say about this is that I didn't pay to get in. Had I been unfortunate enough to pay five clams to see this I'd still be feeling rather cheated right now. As it is I just feel tired, safe in the knowledge I've just wasted two hours of my life so that I can warn you people to avoid this movie. You owe me one.

From his island of objectivity, Disko has awarded this film 1 out of 5 Disko Units.

Tom DiCillo
Cast list:
Denis Leary (Detective Ray Pluto)
Elizabeth Hurley (Dr. Ann Beamer)
Luis Guzm?n (Juan Benitez)