“The Identical” is the type of movie that would be great on the Hallmark Channel or even TBN, for that matter. It’s a movie that deals with a lot of elements that are both familiar and fundamental to movies of this kind: It features Scripture, Southern nostalgia and, of course, the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.
The movie, now in theaters, opens in Depression-era Alabama with a young couple who gives birth to twins, but ultimately decides to separate them in order to keep from losing their home. Ray Liotta stars as a preacher and Ashley Judd is his wife who takes one of the twin boys after they cannot have children of their own.
The twins are named Dexter and Drexel Helmsley (both played by Blake Rayne). Drexel grows up to become a successful Elvis wannabe, while Dexter goes by Ryan tries to find God’s calling on his life. He even joins the Army for a brief period, playing music (wink, wink), but his preacher father hopes he will follow in his footsteps.
Soon, Ryan discovers Drexel’s music and decides to be just exactly like him, still not knowing that Drexel is his doppelganger. Anybody reading this review probably will know how this just might turn out.
Like a lot of Christian-themed films, “The Identical” gives us a heavy-handed dose of the Bible, but where it might succeed in preaching to the choir, it seriously lacks in compelling drama, instead delivering sappy, manipulative moments and unintentional laughs.
Liotta and Judd are highly talented actors who’ve given great performances in everything from “Goodfellas” to “Heat,” but they need to find stronger material. Not to mention, we also get Seth Green and Joe Pantoliano, who are puzzlingly miscast.
The movie has a good-looking production value and recreates the era of music from the 1950s to the 1970s. Also, Rayne does make a dead ringer for the King. However, this is ultimately a redemption tale that itself fails to find that redemption.
Rated PG for thematic elements and smoking.