Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Multiplicity (1996)

Harold Ramis is a director who I can happily say has provided me with a lot of laughs. In fact, Groundhog Day is one of my favourite comedies of all time. The high concept and great lead performance from Bill Murray even managed to distract me from the fact that the female lead was played by one of my least favourite actresses ever, Andie MacDowell. In a similiar way, Multiplicity is a high concept movie with a great lead performance from Michael Keaton that manages to distract me from the fact that the female lead is played by one of my least favourite actresses ever, Andie MacDowell.

That's not the end of the common ground that both movies share. Both films show what can happen when someone is given much more time on their hands and both films, ultimately, try to convey the message that it doesn't matter how much time you have, what matters is how you use it.

Michael Keaton plays Doug Kinney, a busy man who is struggling to do well at work and keep his boss (Richard Masur) happy while also getting to spend time with his family and keep his wife (Andie MacDowell) happy. Fortunately, after a stressful incident at a site he's working on, Doug is given the chance of a miracle by Dr. Leeds (Harry Yulin). That miracle comes in the shape of . . . . . . . . . . . Doug. Well, Doug number two, to be exact. A clone. An extra Doug means that the original Doug should be able to spend more time with the family, relax occasionally and generally get more done. That's the theory anyway. In reality, things start getting more and more complicated. Maybe a third Doug could take the pressure off slightly. And a fourth?

There are a number of factors here that you can all too easily complain about. Andie MacDowell for one. The script, written by Chris Miller, Lowell Ganz, Mary Hale and Babaloo Mandel, is sharper than a lot of people give it credit for but there are also a few untidy loose ends and a number of developments that make holding your suspension of disbelief harder with every minute that goes by.

So it's a good thing that Ramis, who directs with his usual bright and breezy touch, has a good cast in place for many of the supporting roles - Yulin, Masur, John de Lancie, Eugene Levy, Brian Doyle-Murray - and then tops everything off with yet another great performance from the consistently brilliant Michael Keaton. In fact, Keaton gives four great performances, playing each Doug in the different way required to show exactly who they are. Clone number one is a more macho Doug, clone number two is a more sensitive and caring Doug in touch with his feminine side and clone number three is . . . . . . . . . . . well . . . . . . . . . he's not quite right. Keaton gets to have a blast playing all of the characters and it's a tour de force of acting that lifts the whole movie from something good to something very good and, to me, almost great.


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