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'Double Take': Noirish Nonsense

By Michael O'Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 12, 2001


    'Double Take' Orlando Jones and Eddie Griffin star in "Double Take." (Buena Vista)
Eddie Griffin and Orlando Jones are very funny men. Note: I did not say that "Double Take," the new movie in which they star, is a particularly funny movie.

Lord knows, I've seen worse. It's just that I -- and, I trust, you -- have seen and will see in our lifetimes an awful lot better than this lowbrow comedic escapade inspired, believe it or not, by the obscure 1957 film noir "Across the Bridge." That movie, a sober black-and-white thriller based on a book by Graham Greene and starring Rod Steiger, was about a fugitive financier who throws a man off a train and steals his ID, only to discover that that man is wanted for murder in Mexico.

You can see why producer David Permut and director George Gallo would watch that video and think (according to their press kit), "We can make a comedy out of this." The finished product, according to co-star Jones, "is a film noir, a thriller and an action/comedy all rolled into one." (Beware of any movie that can be described, like a burrito, with the phrase, "all rolled into one." There's inevitably more rice and beans than meat.)

Anyway, Jones plays the fugitive financier here, investment banker Daryl Chase, suspected of a couple of murders he didn't commit and on the lam until he can clear his name. Enter Freddy Tiffany (Griffin), for all intents and purposes a street lunatic whom the Harvard-educated Chase can't seem to shake. That is, until Chase throws Tiffany off a train and assumes his identity, only to discover that his victim is wanted for murder in Mexico. Don't worry, in this version Tiffany, who has also assumed Chase's identity, pops right back up like Wile E. Coyote. Most of the comedy, such as it is, consists of the uppity Chase acting "street" and the ghetto-fabulous Tiffany putting on moneyed airs. But, if you've seen the trailers, you already know that.

That's about all the plot synopsis I'll give you, and not because I'm scrupulous about not ruining the twists, which in the end are rather lame. It's about all I could figure out for the first hour of the story, whose rampant unexplained mysteries will leave you scratching your head in wonderment. That much is true to the film-noir aesthetic.

The movie is at its best when Jones and Griffin are doing what they do naturally, which is to say: making complete idiots of themselves, mugging, clowning, insulting the rest of the cast and riffing on their characters' class differences. When attempting to engage in heavy "acting" or running around with a gun in each hand blazing like something out of a John Woo flick, their work falters.

Sorry guys, Chow Yun Fat and Humphrey Bogart you are not. Laurel and Hardy, maybe.

DOUBLE TAKE (PG-13, 88 minutes) -- Contains lingerie models, fistfights, shootouts, sexual innuendo and mild obscenity.


Copyright 2001 The Washington Post Company

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