One of my best friends from college is completely and utterly obsessed with Orlando Jones. Try as I might, I can't seem to dispell those terrifying images of Matt Dobson squealing with laughter on my couch, clapping with delight as Jones finds some new, wacky, destructive way to hock 7-Up. I guess I shouldn't poke too much fun at him -- after all, I shamefully have three Josie and the Pussycats dolls on my dresser -- but it was with Matt Dobson in mind that I grabbed Double Take, a remake of 1957's Across the Bridge, for my burgeoning DVD collection. I don't really understand the motivation for that decision myself, particularly since we've both graduated and Matt now lives a couple of hours from here. Even if I can't find anyone with the faintest interest in watching this movie with me, at the very least, I can share my thoughts on this DVD release from Buena Vista with all of you wonderful people out there in cyberspace.
Daryl Chase (Orlando Jones) is an extraordinarily succcessful Wall Street stockbroker whose curiosity is piqued when one of his clients, Mexican beverage company Don Carlos Cola, makes an extraordinarily large deposit one night to the tune of $106 million. After his secretary calls up a few distributors, it becomes painfully clear that Don Carlos Cola must be a front for some less-than-reputable activities. Chase quickly finds himself in the sights of far too many semi-automatic weapons, but with the help of a braggart street hustler named Freddy Tiffany (Eddie Griffin), the Harvard-educated Chase disguises himself as a stereotypical UPN star. Along with Freddy's ever-present lap dog, this unlikely pair slowly makes their way to Mexico in the hopes of escaping from the ruthless assassins doggedly pursuing them.
Double Take moves along at a fairly brisk pace, but its repetitiveness makes the 88 minute movie seem quite a bit longer. Once the plot is established, nearly every scene till the climax goes something like:
Wash, rinse, repeat.
- Freddy catches up with Daryl.
- Freddy tries to convince Daryl why his presence is necessary.
- Freddy and Daryl seem to get along.
- Daryl bonks Freddy over the head or something.
- Daryl trots off, and Freddy vows to get even with him.
The promos for Double Take give the indication that much of the movie is spent with two people from vastly different backgrounds switching roles and the (guffaw!) hilarity that ensues. Though they do wear each other's clothing for much of the film, a grand total of two minutes or so is actually spent comically examining the switch. Nevermind the trailer -- a single 30-second TV spot spoils what little humor there is to be had in Double Take. The only time I laughed during the entire length of the movie -- and it was more of a light chuckle -- was when Chase, in a booming, exaggerated voice, demands Schlitz Malt Liquor on the dining car of a train heading south of the border. It's not so much that the humor falls flat; Double Take doesn't even seem to bother attempting to be funny. The handful of action scenes don't really make up for this, either. There are only a handful of intense sequences, and of those, only a shootout on a Texan emu farm approaches the bombastic, over-the-top action of similar but far more entertaining fare like Rush Hour or Bad Boys. Also, as the title indicates, everyone is double, triple, or quadraseptuple-crossing everyone else, approaching the ridiculousness of my all-time least favorite deception flick, Malice. Double Take doesn't come close to being unwatchable, but with so many movies that have done the same thing, but better, why bother?
Video: The crisp, razor-sharp 2.35:1 anamorphic image is quite remarkable, offering an incredible amount of detail and strattling the line that separates reference quality discs from the rest of the pack. Those among you who faithfully read my rambling reviews may have noticed that I rarely much much to say about edge enhancement. I only have a 36" VVega, which pales in comparison to the 65" to 100" 16x9 screens that most sites' reviewers seem to use, and perhaps my set is too small or I'm not discerning enough to feel as strongly about edge enhancement. Obviously, what I'm leading up to with all of this is that Double Take is one of very few discs where edge enhancement really leapt out at me. That's really the only negative thing I can say about this otherwise excellent presentation, which sports deep, rich blacks (I'm assuming you're all mature enough to not spin this statement in any other way) and is completely free of grain, dust, specks, softness, tears, nicks, scratches, and any other sort of print flaw that could possibly come to mind. Very well done aside from the somewhat liberal use of edge enhancement.
Audio: One day, I promise to buy a DTS-capable receiver so I can finally rattle on at length about how superb and spectacular everyone else's favorite codec is. For the time being, though, I'm stuck in Dolby Digital-ville, so I'll have to refrain from commenting about the DTS track included on this DVD release of Double Take. The DD 5.1 track is phenomenal, though, and I certainly consider it to be showcase material. I can think of only a handful of other discs off the top of my head where every inch of the room seems to be filled with sound. The mix is quite aggressive and active, with every channel getting an extensive amount of use. Surrounds are used very frequently, and not just for shoot-outs and random music. Though the requisite "hip hop flava" (yes, I gots mad cred, yo) isn't really as present one might expect from this sort of film, the bass punch of the thumping techno-lite score is pretty impressive nonetheless. Quite nice.
Supplements: I wasn't too enthusiastic about sitting through Double Take for a second time to listen to the commentary contributed by director George Gallo and editor Malcolm Campbell. To my surprise, the commentary proved to offer far more laughs than the Gallo-penned feature itself. With very few gaps of silence, Gallo and Campbell go into great detail on the origin of the project, as well as relating numerous production anecodes and assorted technical information. I'm tempted to recommend the commentary as the default audio track for this disc.
I groaned when I saw a menu option entitled Director's Diary, expecting a seemingly endless number of pages of eye-crossingly tiny text. Pleasantly enough, this diary, narrated by Gallo, is a piecemeal of nearly half an hour of footage ranging from on-set zaniness to the film's premiere. Gallo, through his narration and the extensive amount of video, provides an excellent overview of the joys and occasional stress of filming a big-budget action/comedy. Another interesting and rather original supplement is the Clues Companion, which spends a few minutes detailing the clues dropped as to the relevance of apparently-obscure characters and the true allegiences and motives of others.
Also along for the ride are seven extended and deleted scenes, pleasantly presented in rather pristine anamorphic widescreen, not the scarcely watchable mess of pixels exported from Avid that seem so common. These are also available with optional commentary, though the comments by Gallo and Campbell rarely extend beyond "this was cut for pacing".
Two scenes are given the storyboard comparison treatment, though strangely, each is presented differently. The opening title sequence can be toggled using the Angle button on your remote, but the emu shoot-'em-up can only be viewed as an A-B comparison. The storyboard for the emu sequence is accompanied by commentary from Gallo. Finally, there is that ubiquitous extra, the theatrical trailer, in stereo and non-anamorphic widescreen.
Conclusion: The slew of supplements on Double Take will probably make this DVD release a worthwhile purchase for those who saw and enjoyed this movie theatrically. Double Take is far from the worst light-hearted buddy action flick out there, but I still wouldn't recommend buying it sight-unseen. A rental will probably be far more than enough for most. Rent it.