Elvis Presley helped revolutionize music and his cultural influence still lasts today. He brought a new, unique sound to the world of music and he even made a go at being a film star too. Little did you know, Elvis actually had a twin brother who was also Christian, and Jewish… Well, that’s what this film may want you to think. I remain skeptical about all that, but that would make for an interesting enough story.
In a time where a family could barely support itself, William Hemsley (Brian Geraghty) and his wife Helen (Amanda Crew) had twins boys that they simply couldn’t raise with their given living conditions. After hearing Reverend Reece Wade (Ray Liota) weep over the fact that his wife, Louise Wade (Ashely Judd), had another miscarriage, William had an idea. After that sermon, the Hemsley’s gave up one of their children to the Reece’s, praying that they and God would look after their son. After that point, nothing would ever be the same.
Given that his father was a pastor, Ryan Wade (Blake Rayne) was always supposed to hear God’s calling and follow in his father’s footsteps. Instead, Ryan was moved by music and by the power it had over people. He could sing and he could dance, but the Devil’s music had no place in his home. During his maturation, a Rock & Roll singer by the name of Drexel Hemsley (Blake Rayne) gained infamy and Ryan garnered many comparisons to the star. They did look and sound a lot alike, but it must be a coincidence. Or, could this be the brother he never knew that he had?
The Identical is by far and away the most strangely unnecessary films that I have seen this year. Aside from its ridiculous premise and fictitious retelling of an Elvis type character, everything is just wrong and typical in this film and I have no idea who’s going to go pay to see this. In fact, do people even know that this is a film that’s getting released in a couple-thousand theaters? It does have a big name (and a few smaller names attached to it), but there’s nothing interesting enough in this film to satisfy anyone.
So, Blake Rayne has been getting by in life as an Elvis Presley impersonator. To his credit, he does look quite a lot like him and his singing voice is as close as any impersonator that I’ve heard. However, you can’t rely on those two things alone, especially if you’re to be the star(s) of a film, which we know requires some level of acting skill. Unfortunately for Rayne, he’s the worst actor in this film and his performance is painful to watch. While his voice is fine, I didn’t buy any of the words and emotions that were a part of his character and I loathed his characters by the end of the film. You need more than looks to make a good impression (pun intended).
For whatever reason, Ray Liota decided to help produce this film and play a demanding preacher that only wants his son to hear God’s calling. That’s fine, except for the fact that Liota goes overboard with all of his scenes and has absolutely no business being in this film, especially after all the great work he’s been doing lately. Ashley Judd never ages in the film and she’s just sort of in the background. Seth Green decided it was time to resurface and he couldn’t have picked a worse role than the one he had in this film. Boozy best-friend that only serves as a comic relief, despite not being even remotely funny.
I could have bought a story about two twins separated at birth that both have talent, but why in the world did they need to end up like Elvis? This film’s story is so oddly specific and when things are closing in on being interesting and engaging, the film shoots itself in the foot and decides that it just wants to toy with you. Why did the preacher father have to be so against his son wanting to sing? Why did Ryan’s characters never suspect anything, despite looking and sounding exactly alike? Did no one ever think that this was weird? The film is sort-of a metaphor for what Ryan did in real life, but it made for such an absurdly dull film.
Perhaps most frustrating about this film, was its reliance on cliches and more coincidences than you care to keep track of. Chance meetings and situations had me rolling my eyes at times, and nearly falling out of my chair due to laughter at other times. In the last half of the film, the cheese meter is maxed out and they pull out all the stops in order to elicit some type of reactions from you. Faith is tested, truths are revealed, and no one is surprised by the outcome of events, due to how prior events unfolded. The dialogue is cringe-worthy, the makeup and costumes are atrocious, and nothing ever makes sense. Who greenlit this project?!
The Identical serves as a Christian/Musical/Impers-umentary that will leave you more upset than you ever could have imagined. There’s just nothing redeeming about this film. Not even Christ the Redeemer could save this film, though he was a very large factor in it. I’m fine with whatever you choose to make a film about, be it a christian take on Elvis’ life, but you have to make it well and not force things. The drama is as fake as it gets, the stakes aren’t real, the writing is dull, the faith is too much, and now Elvis is rolling in his grave. If you’re in the mood for Elvis, just play his music. You don’t need twin rockers and a combination of Jewish and Christian faith to get your fix for the King.
The Identical Trailer