The Avenue

The Identical

  • Directed by Dustin Marcellino
  • Starring Blake Rayne, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green
  • Rated N/R
1 pulses

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SPOILER ALERT: This is a film about Elvis.

In a tale that’s bound to create suspicious minds, one of two baby twin brothers is given to a preacher after the young family couldn’t handle double trouble. After the given twin grows up, young Ryan Wade comes to find he has a voice for more than gospel, and becomes all shook up when he discovers the unchained melodies of Drexel Hemsley, a legendary rocker whose look and music are not unlike his own. But it’s more than just a tender feeling as Wade realizes it’s now or never if he wants to be his own man and follow his own dreams.

I . . . don’t even know where to begin with this film. There is no conviction here, and nothing of any redeeming value. We’ve got achingly bland direction, characters so flat and wooden you’d think they were part of the set, forgettable music, and the lowest amount of jargon from Christianity and Nashville required to somehow qualify this as a family film shot in Music City. In addition, this is a very talky tale that could benefit from a little less conversation and a lot more action.

It’s ultimately a long, boring road to nowhere that should have been called “3,000 Miles to Disgraceland.”

Let’s talk about the moral content of the film for a moment. Why in the hell was Wade not informed he had a brother? There’s no reason for this dishonesty, especially considering that the young man was raised by a preacher and his wife (who later shares that it’s a man’s job to learn to stand in his truth). Why didn’t the original family, with their super-rich son, reach out to this kid from the beginning? They knew where he lived— you know, in the same town where his mother was dying in a hospital. He had to wait to have a look-alike contest to see his brother, only to never really make contact with him?

The message of the story is a doozy: “Drop out of school. Don’t make an honest living as a man of God or a mechanic. Instead, be your own man. Do that by following the dreams of your brother. From there, you can go into show business. It’s known for integrity. You won’t have any time for your friends or family, but you can get lots of money for covering someone else’s songs and dressing just like him. If you’re lucky, you too can steal music from black people.”

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For God’s sake, Bubba Ho-tep has stronger moral fiber than this.

And the name “Drexel Hemsley.” This alone could gag an anaconda. Did a 1940s Batman villain come up with this? The only thing it needed was for Jon Lovitz to show up and go “Yeah, that’s the ticket. Drexel Hemsley. Yeah . . .”

According to an article from The Tampa Tribune, the film was “based in part on the life of Wade Cummins,” an Elvis impersonator who has been playing the King for over 45 years. The Tribune also shares that the film was the product of four hours of footage. That would explain its incoherence. Since the film is actually about twins, it seems that this is more of a generic hypothetical that asks “What if Elvis’s twin brother survived infancy only to be eclipsed by his brother’s shadow? And what if he had a goofy haircut midway through that made him look like Stephen Fry?”

Creativity has left the building in this lackadaisical attempt to piggyback on the majesty of the King. The makers of the film are wanting to fill Presley’s blue suede shoes, but can’t even give us Johnny Bravo. Why put forth the effort with this? Just make your own character. Or, why not borrow another character who isn’t so ingrained in American culture? Nashville alone has such a rich mythos of legends you could tell. This is what we get?

For anyone who thinks I’m being too harsh and wants to share that this film was made for families, I would say “You’re right, but Ray Liotta’s family didn’t need money that badly.” And let’s keep in mind that Elvis got famous for thrusting his crotch at people.

If the Netflix disc should show up on your doorstep, just mark it “return to sender.”

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About the Author

I'm a contributing writer for the Murfreesboro Pulse. I'm also a filmmaker and a founding member of the MTSU Film Guild. My interests include screenwriting, producing, coffee, beer and philosophy. I'm a huge fan of films, particularly horror, action, science fiction and crime.

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