The Set of 400: #185 – My Favorite Boot Hat

Today! Because so much for rule #1 –

Multiplicity (1996)

Directed by Harold Ramis

Starring Michael Keaton (x4), Andie MacDowell (x3), Harris Yulin, Eugene Levy (x2), Richard Masur, Brian Doyle-Murray (x3), John de Lancie, Ann Cusack, Julie Bowen, Robin Duke, Robert Ridgely (x3), Glenn Shadix (x2)

While it still might be a better idea for a movie than how it actually turned out, Multiplicity is nonetheless a very funny, solidly entertaining film. After a lengthy sojourn into superhero costumery and relatively effective dramas, Michael Keaton got back to his all out comedic roots portraying Doug Kinney (named for legendary National Lampoon writer Doug Kenney) and his clones. It’s a pan-and-scan nightmare of a film, so find it in widescreen or get ready for the whiplash! They want you to see all the clones, it’s understandable, but man, the camera sliding all over the goddamn place.

But I mean, what an idea, right? Take an accomplished comic-dramatic actor, give him four (well, three, anyway) nearly identical roles in the same film, and see how they can mine it for gags. Keaton is fully up to the task, and makes the film work almost singlehandedly, because the writers didn’t bother throwing a ton of plot into this thing. He’s spread too thin at work and at home, and he happens upon a not-so-mad scientist who has worked out the whole cloning thing, and voila! Problem solved! But obviously complications arise, even if they don’t make a ton of sense (All the Dougs have the same memories to a point, so then why are #2 and #3 so deficient in their opposing interests?).

Ramis’s supernatural high-concept comedies as a writer and/or director were more hits than misses, with your Groundhog Days and your Ghostbusters, but also your Year Ones and Bedazzleds, with Multiplicity landing squarely in the middle. It’s not perfect, but does feature a bunch of great gags, and all the wonderful Keatons. But it wasn’t a particularly big hit, and I’m not sure how well it holds up in audiences’ minds since. It was on cable constantly in the late ’90s, and I think that’s how I got so familiar with it. It also is one of the wife’s favorites, so that always helps a movie loiter around in my affections. “Good party, Steve” is a pretty common phrase in the household.

Critics weren’t overly kind, and obviously there were no awards for Multiplicity, but come on, I would say it’s a hard movie not to like. Could some better scenarios have been contrived for the clones to work through? Sure. Does the movie actually point to a more interesting sequel, that was obviously never in danger of getting made? Yes. But does this detract from the current film? For all its shortcomings, what it puts on screen is continually intriguing, and pretty funny. Give Multiplicity another try! And if nearly elderly Michael Keaton can be convinced into doing another Beetlejuice (a pretty perennial rumor, maybe verified by December of 2019?), we can demand to see how the clones are faring twenty-five years later, no? Tell me you wouldn’t watch that movie!

Best Wallet Pizza. Period.

Levy (#231 American Pie) and Shadix (#379 The Nightmare Before Christmas) make the Two-Timers club, while MacDowell (#219 The Player, #279 Muppets From Space), Ridgely (#395 Robin Hood: Men in Tights, #275 Melvin and Howard), and Brian Doyle-Murray (#227 Scrooged, #357 JFK) advance to the Threes. Keaton’s four performance day also inducts him to the Four-Timers, coincidentally, following #393 The Dream Team, #282 Johnny Dangerously, and #205 Batman Returns. Spotlight!

Spotlight, incidentally, was ineligible

Coming tomorrow! Do you boys like Mexico?!?

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