Elvis fans know that he had an identical twin brother, Jesse, delivered stillborn about a half-hour before Elvis’ birth. Ever since, people have asked: What would’ve happened if Jesse had lived?
The Identical, one of those “faith-based” movies like God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is for Real and Jesus Loved Jellybeans, is a take on the surviving-Elvis-twin premise, replacing Elvis and Jesse Presley with the fictional Ryan Wade and Drexel Hemsley, both played by real-life Elvis impersonator Blake Rayne.
Getting the rights to Elvis’ music would cost more than three new Cadillacs, so the producers of this dreck wrote some crap Elvis copycat music and a shameless script that stars Elvis without really starring Elvis. I wish Lisa Marie Presley would sue the makers of this movie for obviously stealing her dad’s likeness, but then she would have to actually see this movie, and I wouldn’t wish that fate on anyone.
Somehow, this aberration attracted talented actors like Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green and Joe Pantoliano. However, it’s bad. It’s so bad that one viewing could cause septic shock due to cinematic shit entering your bloodstream through the eyes and ears.
The movie starts with Rayne as Drexel, the brother who has grown up to be rich, sitting in his limo and seeing a vision of people picking cotton in a Depression-era field. It then flashes back to the Depression, when a couple decided to give up one of their twin newborn boys, because they couldn’t afford two little brats.
That boy, Ryan, is raised by a preacher and his wife (Liotta and Judd) with a big Jesus influence and a push toward making him a pastor. The film is peppered with scenes of Liotta delivering fire-and-brimstone sermons—sermons that get unintentionally funnier and funnier as his character ages under prosthetic makeup. Young Ryan loves Jesus, but, of course, he’s got rock ’n’ roll in his bones, evidenced by his sweet dance moves when he visits an evil honky-tonk bar. He dabbles in music, writing Elvis-like songs with his hip drummer friend (Green, a long way from Robot Chicken).
Ryan has no knowledge of his famous brother due to some weird pact Liotta’s character made with his birth father to not mention
Elvis Drexel until both birth parents were dead. So, while Drexel lives in a house called Dreamland and makes bad surf movies, Ryan is joining the Army and singing in honky-tonk bars.
It’s worth noting that Rayne is 40, but this movie asks him to be in his teens for a good hunk of its running time. Rayne does look and sound like Elvis, but he’s missing some of that Presley bravado. Actually, he’s missing all of that Presley bravado. This guy has no business being on a movie screen playing a character who is supposed to parallel Elvis Presley. His act should be reserved for state fairs and cheap casinos.
The whole movie is bizarre beyond words, made even weirder by the fact this is a movie the producers want church groups to attend. It’s a PG film, but the only thing that makes the movie PG is a scene in which Ryan refuses beer at a bar where “reefer” is being smoked.
I watched this movie in complete disbelief—totally aghast, mouth agape, and laughing out loud at its wretchedness—while sitting in a completely empty movie theater. The music, with such wannabe hits as “Boogie Woogie Rock and Roll” and “Sunrise Surfin’” is inexcusably awful, and the “Jesus Loves You” undertones are the equivalent of somebody walking up and smashing you in the face with a Bible and then shoving its pages down your throat while you are lying on the ground, unconscious and bleeding.
This was supposed to be the movie that made Blake Rayne a household name. If it succeeds in that, from now on, when my dog vomits on the household carpet, I will refer to it as “Blake Rayne-ing.”
The Identical is now playing at the Ultrastar Mary Pickford Stadium 14 (36850 Pickfair St., Cathedral City; 760-328-7100); the Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 (72777 Dinah Shore Drive, Rancho Mirage; 844-462-7342); and the Century Theatres at the River (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-836-1940).