Double Jeopardy (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

You have to be kidding me. How did this turkey ever get to be a hundred million dollar picture?

First of all, it is based on a legal premise so silly that everyone in the audience laughed when they heard it. Oh, didn't you know that the double jeopardy clause of the constitution, which states that you can't be tried twice for the same crime, means that if you are convicted of murdering your husband and he later shows up alive, you can kill him for free, at any time you choose, and you are completely immune from legal consequences, because that's the law! Yeah, right.

Here's a better script idea based on the exact same premise. District Attorney wants to kill his wife, so he makes a deal with a hired killer. Killer says - I can't do that, I'll go to jail. DA says - I'll try you for the same crime now, you'll be found innocent, and then you'll be free to kill her at your leisure, free from legal consequences. So he files the charges, the jury finds the guy not guilty when the wife is found alive and healthy during the trial, and Mister Killer is now free to kill the DA's wife at Mardi Gras with a sawed-off shotgun, because, hey, that's the law. But now the DA decides that he really loves his wife, and ... he can't tell anyone about the plot because that would make him a a conspirator to murder ... and this guy is walking around with the legal right to kill his wife whenever he chooses to. Then, the guy with the "get out of jail free" card finds out that the DA now wants his wife alive, so he really has the DA over a barrel, doesn't he? See what I mean? It's a silly legal premise, but if you accept that it is true, you can come up with a much more interesting plot.

The silliest part of it is that Tommy Lee Jones plays a former law professor who says "as a former law professor, I can assure you she is right". Um, OK. Well, I don't have a law degree, but I think I could explain to Tommy Lee that stabbing one's husband on a boat and shooting him six years later are two different murders, but who am I? Just for the record, everyone in the audience laughed when the women in prison dispensed this legal wisdom to Ashley Judd, and again when Tommy Lee confirmed it.


Very little nudity. Miss Judd does a sex scene in which the very top of her buns and one nipple are seen.
Just for the record, OJ votes for the premise to be true. His case shows, of course, that in certain circumstances you can even be tried again for the exact same set of circumstances in a civil court, even if a criminal court finds you not guilty. In fact, here's the way it would really go down in America. Ashley gets out of prison and finds that she inherited a fortune from her uncle, but the family of the not-really-dead husband then successfully sues her for depriving him of his civil rights. They get all her inheritance, and the husband is at the trial, in disguise, laughing.

A second legal quibble. Ashley is convicted of a brutal pre-meditated murder with a knife, where the newspapers say she "sliced and diced" her husband, and she's out on the streets six years later. Now that's scary.

They're now working on the sequel, Final Jeopardy, in which she is is married to Alex Trebek and convicted of killing him brutally with a McCullouch chain saw. Alex set the whole thing up, of course, and who can tell one chainsawed body from another? After a harrowing three weeks in jail, which seems more like four or five weeks, she is free. Alex is back hosting Jeopardy because the public has forgotten that he's supposed to be dead. Ashley comes back as a contestant, totin' a six shooter, and kills Alex for real on the show because, hey, that's the law, and there's nothing anybody can do about it. Since the show is taped in advance, the network is able to advertise that the murder will take place on Thursday's show, and the ratings set an all-time record.

Not only that, the trailers spoiled what little suspense there is in the movie. The previews for this movie actually told us that she was unjustly convicted, and they show her facing the guy down later. What??? But if you just follow the movie from the beginning, you don't know for sure that she didn't kill him, and there is some suspense in whether she'll ever find him and bring him to justice before Tommy Lee finds her and brings her back for a parole violation. Why did they decide to give everything away?

Tommy Lee is Lieutenant Gerard again, but this time Ashley is Richard Kimble, unjustly convicted of killing his/her wife/husband, blah, blah, blah. Except in this case, for some reason, the ex-husband still has both arms. I guess that little change is why screenwriters get the big bucks.

Hey - she is sent to woman's prison and there are no shower scenes? Now, THAT, is specifically in violation of the constitution.

Hey, again - couldn't the friggin' ex-husband at least have changed his appearance a little bit when he assumed his new identity? Lois lane could have seen through this one.

When Ashley finally finds the ex-husband, she offers him a deal - he can keep his entire life and all his ill-gotten gain if he'll simply let her take her son back. Why the hell did he turn this deal down? He's obviously not Mister Dad, since he has shipped the lad off to a boarding school in Georgia so daddy can maintain his sybaritic and depraved lifestyle back in The Big Easy. So, Ashley shows up, says give me the kid back, he shrugs, says OK, writes down the address. End of movie, everybody is happy.

When Ashley was in prison for a few months, she found out that her ex-husband was still alive. Here's what I would have done with my next three phone calls: (1) call my mom, give her the ex-husband's address, and have her get the evidence together (2) call my lawyer and tell him the story (3) call USA Today and say "boy do I have a story for you". But what does Ashley decide to do? To accept that she is powerless inside of prison, and start hitting the weight room, planning her revenge. Now mind you, she could have spent all her life in there, but no-o-o-o-o-o-o-o. I guess she read the script, figured she'd be out in a few years, and decided to accept prison as a free fitness farm.

Finally, it's an r-rated film, fer chrissakes, and Ashley is known to have nothing against nude scenes, but the best they can come up with is some really dark looks where you can barely make out a nipple? C'mon! Director Beresford had about as much nudity in "Driving Miss Daisy". I would have forgiven all of this nonsense if Ashley had given up the goods.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic 2.35;1

  • no significant features except a behind-the-scenes featurette

Was there anyone in the audience who couldn't figure out every single "surprise" in this movie? Did you really think that was her son in the cemetary? I'm really at a loss to explain the success of this movie in the face of abysmal reviews.

It is professionally filmed and acted, and there are a couple of good scenes.

  • Ashley and Tommy Lee are in a car which is sinking in deep water, and they have to remove her handcuffs while the car sinks deeper and deeper. Part of this scene is filmed from far beneath the sinking car, thereby conveying the extreme depth of the water.
  • After she tracks down ex-hubby, he imprisons Ashley in a coffin with a long-dead corpse, inside one of those old mausoleums in N'Orleans. Of course, as luck would have it, she has her trusty six shooter with her, and blasts her way out.

Of course, you'd think she could come up with a better use for the gun, like shooting the husband, or better yet, the screenwriters.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: 2.5 stars. Ebert 2.5/4, Berardinelli 2/4, Apollo 69,

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 28% positive overall, 19% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 6.0, which seems just about right to me. Good performers and good production values, but nothing to work with. Apollo users 69/100
  • With their dollars ... it was an inexplicable hit. A $117 million in the USA alone, compared to a $40 million budget.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or 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. 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, this film is a C-. Barely watchable, formulaic, big-budget thriller, poorly written.

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