Doug Kinney (Michael Keaton) is a man with a high-pressure life. Between work, his marriage to Laura (Andie MacDowell), and raising a daughter, he has little time for himself. His priorities, in order: First, work. Second, family. And at a distant third, Doug.
But Doug just may find a solution to juggling all of the different responsibilities of his life when he’s approaced by Dr. Owen Leeds (Harris Yulin). Is Leeds a psychologist, perhaps? A life coach? Neither — he’s a geneticist… and the solution he proposes is cloning!
Multiplicity was released in 1996 and directed by Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day). The screenplay was written by Chris Miller, Mary Hale, Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel from a short story by Miller.
A few things attracted me to this film. First, the director: Dr. Egon Spengler himself. (I realized this film was available on Hulu just a couple of days after seeing Ghostbusters on the big screen and couldn’t pass it up, due to my Ghostbusters-related appreciation for Ramis.)
Second, the premise sounded like a lot of fun. Man clones self because he doesn’t have enough hours in the day to handle all of his responsibilities? Sounds like as much of a genius as the guy who invented a device that could shrink people. I figured I’d get at least a few laughs out of it.
And “a few laughs” is what I got — that, and nothing more. I was pretty disappointed by this film for the most part. Many of the complications that arise from the cloning scenario can be seen coming from a mile away (the clones not being able to stay quiet while living in hiding, one clone getting a little too friendly with Doug’s wife, etc.). Predictability isn’t always a bad thing, but this film just had the potential to be so much funnier and more inventive.
That being said, there are a few positives here. The opening titles are pretty clever, in a corny way. The names of the lead cast, the name of the director, and the film’s title appear on the screen multiple times, because… “multiplicity.” Badum-tsk.
The special effects are pretty good for the film being nearly 20 years old. (A moment of silence to recover from the terror of realizing that 1996 was so long ago.) In most scenes, the “clones” are believable as multiple people standing in a room together. Not as believable as Lindsay Lohan and Lindsay Lohan in the Parent Trap remake, but almost.
Keaton was a good choice to lead the film. He pulls off his multiple characters quite well, injecting a very distinct personality into each of them. The supporting cast is strong overall, too. It’s just a shame they weren’t given more exciting material to work with.
The score: 2/5