Double Whammy  (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Quick, form an opinion about this film. Competed at Sundance, stars Denis Leary, Louis Guzman, and Steve Buscemi.

You think it's some dark, edgy urban drama with hand-held cameras? Think again, amigo. It's like a Steven Spielberg or Ron Howard conception of a black comedy - great production values, big, bright, safe, cuddly, no edge at all.

It starts out with a massacre in a fast food restaurant. A maniac drives through the front window and opens fire with an automatic weapon. He kills six people. A cop (Denis Leary) tries to stop the killer, but his back gives out, he falls, hits his head, and passes out. A 10 year old kid picks up the policeman's gun, and saves the day by plugging the bad guy.

Doesn't sound like a romantic comedy so far, does it?

Well it is.

The film milks the "humor" out of Leary's situation. All the tabloids feature him as "loser cop" and "screw-up cop", while the media tout the little kid as New York's greatest hero. Of course, Leary's fellow officers give him some good natured, manly, locker room put-downs about the six people who died because of him, and the many more who would have died if not for the brave, bespectacled little kid. The little Harry Potter lookin' mothafucka of a kid is on TV saying stuff like, "I hope the officer can fix his back, so no other little kids have to kill." The networks replay this 24/7, much to the amusement of the manly, good-natured cops, who have many more manly, good-natured laughs at Leary's expense.

Zany stuff.

Leary tells his captain "nobody feels worse than me about this", whereupon his manly, good-natured rival for the First Lieutenant job (played by manly, good-natured Mr Big from Sex and the City), says "well, to be honest, maybe the families of the victims feel worse".

Oh, that's wacky!

Leary then goes to a chiropractor, hoping to fix his bad back, so he doesn't endanger any more innocent civilians. His chiropractor is Elizabeth Hurley.

She manipulates his pelvis, shows him her breasts, and that's all she wrote.


Elizabeth Hurley shows one breast in a sex scene with Leary, and also appears in a semi-transparent bra.

There's plenty more wacky and manly fun in the same vein, with Leary, Hurley and some similar subplots. Buscemi, who seems lost in this film, plays a cop who thinks he may be gay, but can't admit it to himself. He has many not-so-manly conversations with Leary in which he compliments Leary's butt and asks Leary to reciprocate. Finally, the film's various sub-plots come together in a Tarantinoesque confrontation in which Leary has a chance to redeem himself. Because all of Tom DiCillo's movies, in one way or another, seem to be about actors and writers and directors making movies, Leary gets a chance to be a hero in front of some screenwriters who just happen to be looking for a good hook for a violent cops-'n'-robbers flick.

And that, I suppose, is how this film was created.

Or something.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1.

To add to my irritation with this film, the one plot thread that was interesting was left unresolved. Leary covered up a neighbor's involvement in a crime, unaware that Mr Big was onto it. This was not a small matter, either. The cute but disturbed kid next door hired two guys to kill her dad, and they nearly succeeded.

In addition, Leary's guilt about the death of his wife and daughter, which was built into monumental proportions during the exposition, was dropped and forgotten at the end.

I think there must have been a longer version of this script at one time, but I don't really want to read about it or think about it any more.

TUNA's Thoughts

Double Whammy (2001) is, as near as I can tell, a straight-to-vid with an all star cast. Denis Leary and Steve Buscemi play New York detectives. Leary goes into a fast food place, when someone goes postal. When he tries to jump up and shoot him, his back goes out, he falls on a banana peel, and loses his gun. While the gunman is reloading, a lid picks up the gun and blows the gunman away. The kid is the toast of New York, and Leary is the laughingstock. His boss puts him on administrative duty until his back completely recovers, and he goes to a chiropractor, who turns out to be Elizabeth Hurley. Se manages to heal him, and the two develop a sexual relationship, although Leary is still trying to get over the accidental death of his wife and daughter.

Louis Guzman is the super in his building, and is having some trouble with a rebellious adolescent daughter. There are two illiterate and inept bad guys, and two men who are working on writing a screenplay. So, the character arc for Leary is, will he redeem himself, get over the loss of his wife, and succeed in his relationship with Hurley.

There are too many characters, the sub-plots are not completely fleshed out, and there is really no build-up of tension. Critics mostly describe it as neither very good nor very bad, but watchable, if not memorable. I found it a fast watch with a few inspired comic scenes, and enough going on to hold my interest.

The Critics Vote

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. Voting results: IMDb voters score it 5.6/10
  • The reported budget was $4 million, but looks and feels much richer. It ended up going straight to video.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Scoop says , "C-. Not completely awful, but barely watchable as a comedy, and barely watchable as a drama. The movie looks very rich, but it is neither a good drama nor very funny. It does, however, have something that enriches and enlivens any movie, namely Elizabeth Hurley's naked chest." Tuna says, "I found it a fast watch with a few inspired comic scenes, and enough going on to hold my interest. C."

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