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Cranky admits it's a lovely notion, having a couple of clone Crankies to help me out when I've got to knock down five or six movies over the course of a short weekend. This happens a lot in the summertime, and again in November, meaning that I walk into work on Monday exhausted, irritable, and downright namesakey.
So consider the case of Doug Kinney (Michael Keaton), a building contractor with incredibly poor work habits. Kinney tends to hire subcontractors who are completely incompetent, then refuses to fire them, and eats the loss. He works too much unpaid overtime, has to deal with constant behind-the-back sniping of a co-worker (John DeLancie), and misses all those important events in his kids' lives, which are part and parcel of the American Dream. His beautiful wife (Andie MacDowell) is ready to go back to work after ten years of rearing the kids, and is unhappy that Doug isn't carrying the share he promised he would.
Reads like a 60-second commercial for Calgon, don't it? Nah, Doug's a real guy, he'd surreptitiously slip into the Mr. Bubble.
One day, through circumstances too unbelievable to reveal, Doug is offered the perfect way out. Cloning. Perfect copies of himself, in every way. One Doug could go to work. One Doug could play golf. One Doug could take the kidlet to ballet classes. And just think, if one Doug made life easier, what if there were two? Or three?
But what if the clones didn't come out perfectly? What if one was so macho that he hit on all the secretaries at work? What if one was so effeminate that, well, Multiplicity doesn't go that route. What if the third, a clone of the clones, came out of a cracked mold?
Oy. That pretty well sums up Multiplicity.
On paper it must have sounded hysterical. Think Patti and Cathy times two. If you don't know the Patti Duke Show, think of any number of TV movies where twins swap roles. Then blow the sexual orientations totally out of kilter and you've got another one trick pony of a flick.
On the positive side, Michael Keaton does manage to deliver four distinct personalities on screen: wimp, macho dude, effeminate dude, and something that is supposed to resemble that "inner child" nonsense you see all the time on public television.
I had all that "inner child" training back in the 1970s. This ain't no inner child. It's a moron who likes to make a mess.
What director Harold Ramis has put on screen is a fairly unfunny mishmash of slapstick and situation comedy. Virtually all the laughs come from the actions of the effeminate clone; few (actually, only one) come from the attempts to keep the secret from wife MacDowell.
I'll repeat myself -- kind of in keeping with the clone idea, Michael Keaton does manage to deliver four distinct personalities on screen. But his fine acting effort is defeated by abysmal lighting which, when all the camera shots are combined, make the entire thing look fake. It happens only twice out of a number of scenes, but jarring the fantasy is enough to knock any enjoyment down a notch.
The couples that I spoke with after the show tended to agree. While they all preferred the effeminate clone, 90 percent expressed the feeling that something "didn't look right." When I mentioned the lighting, they all snapped to.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Multiplicity, he would have paid . . .
Multiplicity is rarely funny. If I were a PC fanatic, and not just Cranky, it wouldn't have been funny at all.
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