Written by / 9/05/2014 / No comments / , , ,

RAY LIOTTA & BLAKE RAYNE IN THE IDENTICAL

year: 2014 rating: *
It’s been rumored that Elvis Presley was a huge Monty Python fan… He’d quote THE HOLY GRAIL in his last days, so they say… And he didn’t live to see LIFE OF BRIAN, in which a child is born in the manger next to Jesus and grew up in a juxtaposed fashion… But Elvis got his very own Brian in Blake Rayne’s Ryan Wade…

Actually, this particular yarn is partially based on truth… The King of Rock N’ Roll did have a twin brother, who died as an infant… So THE IDENTICAL takes the “what if?” concept and runs with it…

Or more like, meanders… Because what you see in the trailers is an exciting tale about a guy who looks like Elvis and becomes a big star… Yet most of the story has Ryan living a pointless existence and trying to avoid his overbearing preacher father, played by Executive Producer Ray Liotta, whose fake Southern-accent-spouting Reece Wade had secretly adopted a child, born into a poor family that couldn’t afford to raise twins... And that family were the parents of Elvis Presley himself... Although the Elvis character, also played by Rayne and shown sporadically, is renamed Drexel Hemsley, and his music isn’t catchy and contagious like Presley's, sounding like glossy drivel you’d hear on GLEE or AMERICAN IDOL. But the estranged brother just happens to sing and dance exactly like the real thing... And while Ryan does eventually score as “The Identical,” touring the country and performing his doppelganger’s tunes, this element hardly lasts ten minutes, halfway through.

So Not Elvis
The movie is so awful it’s hard to describe, really. Elements of what makes a fun-to-bag-on howler are replaced by ponderous melodrama befitting a Hallmark or Lifetime Channel production. And for those already griping about the Faith-based Christian aspect: Until his annoying Holy Roller ego tapers off with old age, Liotta's preacher is a crabby one-dimensional zealot while his more progressive wife could fit into any "good cop" parental category, with God or without.

From the beginning, our hero choses music over religion, so if anything, THE IDENTICAL is Elvis propaganda – and downright blasphemous at that. In the "breakthrough" lead role, with facial and vocal similarities aside (he also resembles Donny Osmond), real life impersonator Rayne’s performance is awkward and self-aware. And the otherwise talented actors like Ray Liotta, mother Ashley Judd and buddies Joe Pantoliano and Seth Green are simply going through the motions...

Then again, there’s hardly any motion at all. And what a shame: This wannabe biopic of a wannabe singer could have been a campy hoot if it weren't so dull and lackluster.
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