Dave White
Duplicity Review

Dave's Rating:

2.0

Don't be duped into seeing it.

Who's In It: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Tom Wilkinson

The Basics: In this movie Julia Roberts does that thing where she opens her mouth really wide and cackles like a crazy person who you've accidentally startled. She does that once. It's also in the trailer. So if you see it there and think the whole movie is going to be her acting like Pretty Woman then you're wrong. It's a bait and switch. Clive Owen does what he does best, too: glower handsomely. But at least he spends the entire film doing it. The plot is about them being spies for shampoo corporations. No, really.

What's The Deal: You'd think that with a story about corporate spies for companies with names that sound kind of like "Blocter & Blamble," (seriously, as if a seven-year-old with a Wacky Packages fixation wrote the script), that it would be a breezy, one-liner-filled, battle of the sexes espionage comedy. The setup alone sounds like a cross between some old screwball thing with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and a dumb sex-farce like Boeing Boeing. But don't be fooled. Yes, the spies are in love and working on their own double-cross. But they're both amazingly joyless. And that's because this is from the director of Michael Clayton, so there has to be dreary, deadpan, anti-corporate point-making happening too. Not that corporations don't deserve every insult they've got coming. But in this case it just muddies the water and turns what could have been great into a chore.

How Many Times I Fell Asleep In This Mirthless, Overly Long, Super-Into-Itself Yawn-Fest: Three. That hasn't happened to me since The Legend of Bagger Vance. Remember that one? About Will Smith as the helpful golf-lesson-giving ghost? It's a dirty secret that sometimes movie reviewers fall asleep, and not just because the theater is too warm. They don't like to talk about it. But I see it as a critical response.

Actor Happiness Visibility Scale: Paul Giamatti seems the kind of man who simply enjoys working. And because he infrequently plays leading men, he gets to be interesting even in cruddy movies (see: Nanny Diaries). He appears to be having fun here as a blowhard CEO. Tom Wilkinson is expressionless. Clive Owen always looks like a shelter dog about to be put down. But Roberts gets off the worst; her character is supposed to be poker-faced, never showing her hand. But she was edited in a way that sours her even in her lovey-dovey scenes with Owen.

More Fun Than: I Love Trouble. Less than Closer.

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