Double Take

Double Take

2001, PG-13, 88 min. Directed by George Gallo. Starring Orlando Jones, Eddie Griffin, Vivica A. Fox, Gary Grubbs, Edward Herrmann, Shawn Elliott, Brent Briscoe, Daniel Roebuck.

REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., Jan. 12, 2001

Touchstone Pictures calls Double Take “a Trading Places for the new millennium.” Sure, it's got a scene on a train, a prince-and-the-pauper switcheroo, a story that's more or less about investment-banking tomfoolery, and even a certain amount of urban edge. But if the tagline proves true, this comedy caper signals a thousand-year downtick. Blame the muzzy plot, a slapdash mix of narrative switchbacks, thin characterizations, and cheesy action scenes assembled by writer/director George Gallo, who's taken a long fall from his script for the infinitely more polished and cohesive 1988 road romp Midnight Run. Herein, a Manhattan investment banker (7-Up pitchman Orlando Jones) takes the heat in a broadly sketched money laundering scheme involving a bogus soda company with ties to a recently bumped-off Mexican governor. Two or three contrivances later, he's wanted for murders he didn't commit, pursued by multiple pairs of mysterious thugs on varying sides of the law, and thrown together on the lam with the “internationally known” Freddy Tiffany (Griffin), a streetwise con man with whom he swaps identities. Moreover, Freddy totes around an irascible lap dog, Dolores (animal actor Willow), who gets a big laugh when she gets wet and barks “in Spanish.” The script is so hyperactively busy that it doesn't give either of the leads much room to breathe; Gallo slams them from one implausible plot twist to another at a metronomic pace. It's too bad -- both Griffin and Jones are perfectly likable, engaging performers who display plenty of chemistry on the few occasions when they're allow to relax and hold a scene. There's a nice moment where Jones, who's taken a ribbing for his Buppie ways, noisily demands a Schlitz Malt Liquor in the train's tony dining car, causing both men to drop their pretenses and actually listen to each other. (He has to settle for a tall boy of Colt .45, proudly proffered by the waiter with a sommelier's flourish.) But they're better than their material, which hews closely to the crowd-pleasing buddy-comedy formula of producer Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), whose heavy hand is easily detectable in Gallo's workmanlike machinations. There's the straight man and his motormouthed urban foil (like Ratner alumnus Chris Tucker, Griffin is so larger-than-life and unrestrained that he barely fits in the movie). Various eye-candy female supporting players log screen time in perfunctory roles (Garcelle Beauvais as Jones's underwear-model girlfriend; Vivica A. Fox as a character so marginal that the pronunciation of her name varies from scene to scene). And the movie flirts with the convivial tastelessness of a lowbrow farce but can't quite commit, aside from some equal-opportunity racial caricatures (Griffin taunts a Mexican-American agent about “liking leaf blowers and lawns”) and offhand jokes about Rodney King and Amadou Diallo that land as gracefully as ball-peen hammers. Still, when the movie gives its stars a chance to be funny, there's a laugh or two to be had, as when Jones and Griffin riff out loud on a scene of egregious Pepsi product placement second only to the Regal Cinemas' pre-show feature.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More George Gallo Films
Wooden Wick knock-off wastes Ruby Rose's star power

Marc Savlov, April 16, 2021

Middle Men
Middle Men journeys backward in Internet history to 1995 when two coked-up ne'er-do-wells created the first dial-up, porn-on-demand website.

Marc Savlov, Aug. 6, 2010

More by Marrit Ingman
Wonder Stories
Wonder Stories

July 25, 2008

King Corn
The film’s light hand, appealing style, and simple exposition make it an eminently watchable inquiry into the politics of food, public health, and the reasons why corn has become an ingredient in virtually everything we eat.

Nov. 9, 2007


Double Take, George Gallo, Orlando Jones, Eddie Griffin, Vivica A. Fox, Gary Grubbs, Edward Herrmann, Shawn Elliott, Brent Briscoe, Daniel Roebuck

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle