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DOUBLE WHAMMY (director/writer: Tom DiCillo; cinematographer: Robert D. Yeoman; editor: Camilla Toniolo ; music: Jim Farmer ; cast: Denis Leary Ray Pluto), Elizabeth Hurley (Dr. Ann Beamer), Steve Buscemi (Jerry Cubbins), Luis Guzman (Juan Benitez), Victor Argo ( Lt. Spigot), Chris Noth (Chick Dimitri), Keith Knobbs (Duke), Donald Faison (Cletis), Kevin Olson (Ricky Lapinski), Melonie Diaz (Maribel Benitez), Millie Tirelli (Yolanda), Maurice Compte (Jo Jo), Otto Sanchez (Ping Pong); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Larry Katz/Jim Serpico/Marcus Viscidi /David Kronemeyer; Lions Gate; 2001)
“More good than bad.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director/writer Tom DiCillo(“The Real Blonde”/”Living in Oblivion) went public with his displeasure that Lions Gate released this as a direct-to-video instead of on a Big Screen. The slight comedy, with some of the director’s offbeat humor intact, tells of a disgraced NYPD cop seeking redemption. Double Whammy is more good than bad, and shouldn’t be summarily dismissed without noting how well it blends together its offbeat drama and offbeat comedy.

Partner detectives, the back-suffering Ray Pluto (Denis Leary) and the sexually confused Jerry Cubbins (Steve Buscemi), are having lunch in a fast-food joint when a crazed gunman starts randomly firing his machine gun at the customers after crashing through the window in his Jeep. Ray drops his gun because of severe back pains, but an 8-year-old boy (Kevin Olson) grabs his gun off the floor and puts the gunman down after six customers are killed. The newspapers hail the kid as a hero and call Ray a “loser cop,” which becomes the running gag throughout.

The accident-prone Ray still grieves the loss of his wife and daughter a few years ago in a tragic hit-and-run incident, in which he feels guilty about.

When put on restricted leave, Jerry encourages the home-bound Ray to go to a chiropractor, Dr. Ann Beamer (Elizabeth Hurley). While healing a rocky romance develops between them.

Two subplots emerge. Ray’s old-fashioned Hispanic building super (Luis Guzman) pisses off his rebellious teenage daughter (Melonie Diaz) by not allowing her to get a tattoo because he believes she knows who put graffiti on the hall wall and won’t tell him. The daughter in retaliation steals dad’s collection of Christmas fund money to hire two Hispanic druggie sleazeballs (Maurice Compte & Otto Sanchez) to kill him. The first attempt at killing the super fails, when he’s fishing with Ray off a nearby river pier. Meanwhile Ray’s fellow tenants are two aspiring over-the-top mega-realist screenwriters (Keith Knobbs, Donald Faison) acting out in their bare apartment a violent hostage scene with a dummy tied to a chair. Just when one of them screams out the window, the hitmen severely stab the super in his apartment. The thugs immediately flee thinking they have been identified by a witness.

The comedy is zany and might not be for all tastes, but I found this ridiculous film both agreeable and at times a real hoot despite its obvious storytelling lapses.

Toronto subs for New York even if it fails to look like the city, but the talented cast make it seem like this is really a NYC story by acting like they belong there.– – – – – – – –


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”