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Old October 18th, 2006, 03:40 AM   #1
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Default Review--Duets

MPAA RATING: R (For Language and Some Sexuality....and brief violence)
RUNTIME: 1 hr.,52mins

Story: 4/5
Acting: 5/5
Sound: 5/5
Visuals: N/A
Endorphin Factor: 4/5
Big Screen Experience: n/a
Scoring system:
Average: 4.5/5


DETAILS: Karaoke. For many people (including myself at one time) it is a way of life. Some take it a little more seriously than others. (Believe me, I know).
This movie kinda blows the bottom out of some karaoke kwirks. Karaoke can be an addicting hobby, and for some, it ends up becoming a means to support themselves, like in this movie.

Huey Lewis plays Ricky Dean, a karaoke hustler who makes his living by betting he can blast other local favorites on the karaoke circuit (a term I loosely use because of the oxymoronic nature of it), and winning. Well, after his latest win, and securing a chance to win the grand prize in Omaha, Nebraska for $5,000, he gets word that an ex-girlfriend of his has recently died. Going to her funeral, he discovers (incredulously) that he has a daughter, Liv (played by the lovely Gwyneth Paltrow). Guilted into the task of being her father, Ricky reluctantly hauls Liv around in his lifestyle.

Paul Giamatti plays a corporate guy with a conscience, and has a family that does not appreciate him at all. So what does he do? He tells his wife "I'm goin' out for a pack of cigarrettes." It turns into a long drive, in which he picks up an ex-con/still a con in the person of Reggie (Andre Braugher). All that Giamatti wants to do is find a way to spend his 800,000 frequent flyer miles, and seems to get shut down at every turn, quite frustratingly so. Upon realizing that Reggie has a gun, Giamatti starts exploring his liberated side, and does things he never thought he would've done in a million years. But in the midst of all this, he rediscovers his lost singing talent at something he had not yet discovered. That's right. You guessed it: Karaoke. (He sings "Hello It's Me") And later, he manages to get Reggie involved (Reggie himself telling one of his robbery victims earlier in the film : I only gots one talent...singing. Otherwise, this (armed robbery) is my trade.) I did not see Andre Braugher's voice listed in the end credits on any song his character participated in. Sad, because Reggie had a beautiful voice...and I was hoping it was Braugher, especially in the duet with Giamatti ("Try A Little Tenderness"). I might have to rewatch the end credits.

Maria Bello plays another Karaoke hustler who uses her body to get around, and she has a fortuitous encounter with a taxi cab (half) owner. She wants to go to California, but on the way, there is the Omaha contest, which she also has won the right to compete in.

These six lives end up meeting in Omaha at the big karaoke event....and discover a lot about themselves, and each other.

And the thing I discovered.....Gwyneth Paltrow and Paul Giamatti are REALLY good singers. That's part of what makes this movie such a gem for me. Ordinary looking people blessed with a wonderous gift. And of course, Huey Lewis has always been one of my favorite entertainers....and his acting prowess is every bit as good as his singing abilities. I need to find more of his movies.

This movie is hilarious, and at the same time poignant. The show stopper for me was the Huey Lewis/Gwyneth Paltrow duet of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" (a song which has rapidly become one of my alltime favorites.) And I'll admit, when I watched this movie, I watched it with a bit of a buzz....and seeing estranged father invite his daughter up on stage to sing the song with him....and listening to the song...well, I got a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Gwyneth and Huey played the scene as beautifully as they sang the song...with Gwyneth looking like the nervous daughter who is genuinely happy to share the stage with her long lost father, and Huey playing the man who is ready to step into one of the most terrifying (and perhaps gratifying roles) of manhood....fatherhood.

The acting and the music are top notch in this film.

BOTTOM LINE: If you are a karaoke addict, or a fan of someone who sings karaoke, and know a bit about the lifestyle, this is a helluva movie to watch. I had to special order it, as I've not seen it widely available. (Then again, it did come out in 2001.)
Don't be a fan. Don't be a victim!-Martok2112
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