Actors: Gillian Jacobs, Justin Long, Jerry O'Connell, John Corbett, Luis Guzman
Director: Richard Gray
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Dolby, NTSC, THX
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: February 10, 2015
Run Time: 100 minutes
Good direction can often improve a poor screenplay, just as bad can have a devastating effect on a good one. The Lookalike is a mess of a screenplay which has its awfulness enhanced by director Richard Gray. Not improved, mind you, but enhanced with excessive slow-motion photography and a manipulative soundtrack to cue the audience’s every emotion. It is a bad script that is over-directed, rather than improved upon, which may have something to do with the writer being the wife of the director.
This is Michele Gray’s third screenwriting credit, all three of which have been directed by her husband. While the premise has some promise, the end result feels like someone shot the first draft of the screenplay on accident. Too much feels forced, contrived melodrama and convenient coincidences overriding any decent characterizations. Believable characters can allow audiences to forgive some of the more unbelievable plot twists, but all of The Lookalike feels half-baked.
The film opens with a secret plan, though it doesn’t feel like a scheme as much as simple prostitution. Sadie Hill (Gillian Jacobs) is partnering with small-time criminals Bobby and Frank (John Corbett and Steven Bauer) to arrange a filmed sexual encounter with drug lord William Spinks (John Savage), a former business partner of Sadie’s father. The reasons behind this arrangement are kept secret, but they are compelling enough for Spinks to spend an exorbitant amount of money.
With everyone relying on the arrangement, Sadie’s sudden death (in a scene more fitting a dark comedy) throws Bobby and Frank into a panic. They desperately begin searching for a lookalike to replace her. Fortunately, basketball champion turned drug dealer, Joe (Jerry O’Connell), has a client with a striking resemblance. Lacey (also Jacobs) goes to Joe’s apartment to turn him over to an eager detective (Gina Gershon) looking to make a drug bust, and instead begins a relationship with his desperate roommate, Holt (Justin Long). The plot is complete by throwing in a beautiful young deaf woman (Scottie Thompson), who takes it upon herself to become involved in the situation after a few dates with Joe, a frightening debt collector (Luis Guzmán), and Sadie’s suspicious co-worker (Felisha Terrell). There are too many threads to this narrative, and few are written with enough depth for us to care about.
The Blu-ray release includes a behind-the-scenes featurette, as well as a few deleted scenes that were rightfully left on the cutting room floor. The high definition does little to enhance the film, despite the preoccupation Gray has with slow motion shots during the action scenes, both sexual and violent.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 4/10
Historical Significance: 1/10
Special Features: 4/10