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Thoughts on "Duplicity" . . .

Posted by 2 Dollar Productions Monday, March 23, 2009

Worth Full-Price, Matinee or Rental: Matinee. This movie is so lightweight that it fits perfectly as low-pressure matinee escapism. Don't ask too much of 'Duplicity,' and you'll likely walk away happy.

Will I Own It On DVD: No. It was enjoyable enough to sit through once, however, there was nothing shown that made me want to rexamine it during another viewing.

1) 'Duplicity' is a trifle of a movie; a project that rests its success or failure on the star power, charisma and likability of Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. How much you enjoy the film is highly dependent upon these two actors, and if you don't care for or about them, then you should probably just stay home. Personally, Owen is one of my favorite actors working today. Roberts can be very good within certains roles/genres, so 'Duplicity' worked for me as a date movie and piece of fluff to consume like cotton candy.

2) Owen and Roberts do share excellent screen chemistry together. This is hugely important for films like 'Duplicity' because a poor onsreen pairing can sink a project with a distinct lack of spark between the leads. But Owen and Roberts - who first showcased their ability to play off each other in 'Closer' - display a winning chemistry that pushes this movie along and allows you to root for them, another essential quality.

3) The supporting cast is also uniformly stellar, if a tad underdeveloped. Paul Giammati and Tom Wilkinson are two of the finest character actors in Hollywood, and any movie benefits from their presence. In 'Duplicity,' they play rival heads of large, dueling pharmaceutical companies who will stop at nothing to beat each other to the market with new products designed to rake in money. Unfortunately, neither man has a lot of screen time, so their talents are not used to the fullest.

4) 'Duplicity' does make a good choice by having Roberts and Owen target big Pharma companies for a brazen theft. This decision allows most viewers to pull for them since drug companies are so large and lucrative and irritating that viewers give the thieves a wide moral ground because these conglomerates probably deserve to be stolen from and fuck 'em if they can't take joke. At least that seemed to be the prevailing attitude at the screening I attended.

5) 'Duplicity' is also fun because it hop-scotches the globe with a lot of exotic locales, which I always enjoy immensely. On the contrived side, however, the film engages in time manipulation plot devices with flashbacks peppered throughout that serve as a somewhat cheap way to drive more drama. Sometimes these time switches can serve as useful tools, but they can also be a lazy gimmick and I felt that 'Duplicity' leaned closer to the latter.

Overall, 'Duplicity' succeeds if you enjoy the actors, and are in the mood for some light entertainment paired with an above average script. If not, there is always the NCAA basketball tournment or you can do both as I did this weekend.



  1. JLee Says:
  2. I think I will take this over basketball. ha
    I like Owen a lot and Roberts can irritate from time to time, but I do enjoy her in some roles. Maybe I'll wait for the rental...

  3. Anonymous Says:
  4. I've never understood the appeal of either Clive Owen or Horseface Roberts. Just sayin'.

  5. Heff Says:
  6. I'm not a Julia Roberts fan AT ALL.

    Paul Giammati, now that's another story, but It sounds like this is not a choice film to see him in.

  7. Jlee - It would be fine for a rental, so that's a good choice too. Roberts works in certain roles, and others, she can be shaky at best. She's pretty good here.

    WhatIgot - Owen just seems like a cool guy to have a pint with, and the roles he chooses, are usually interesting. That puts him at the top of my list as far as actors go. As for Roberts, I don't care much one way or the other, which still puts her ahead of a lot of them.

    Heff - I'll take her over some (Cameron Diaz springs to mind). And Paul is one of my favorites too (Sideways, Private Parts), but he doesn't have much to do here, so I would recommend not even a DISH rental for you.

  8. I really like Clive Owen. I'm on the fence with Julia Roberts. I thought about seeing this movie over the weekend, but other things won out. Like work. And catching up on blogs.

  9. CHEF TROLL Says:
  10. Roberts is between Reptile and Rotten in the dictionary. Grrherhahaahhahahhahahhahaha.

    That darned NCAA Tourney ruined my poker plans. About 200 no-life uber-fans entered so they could type things like "Duke Sucks" and have something to do during commercials.

    I'd have had to stay up until 1:00 AM to take all their money. Not worth it. Need my beauty sleep.

  11. Linda Says:
  12. Good observation. This one was pretty light, but enjoyable. I love Roberts in scenes when she really loses her shit. She did it in Erin Brokovich, and even better in Closer. Clive Owen could open an envelope and I'd say, "bravo", *sigh* Agree on Giammati and Wilson, both a little underused in this flick. This one will be fine as a rental.

  13. Boxer Says:
  14. Love Clive Owen, soooooo over Julia Roberts. I just don't think she's the talent everyone says she is. If her production company wasn't paying most of her salaries, I wonder how much she'd actually get per picture?

    BUT, I always love your reviews and I was hoping I'd see one on this movie. It's been well marketed.

  15. BostonPobble Says:
  16. Waiting for the Netflix of this one. Owens is wonderful and, as you pointed out, it doesn't get any better than Wilkinson and Giamatti. I'm just really really over Roberts. Yes, she can do the America's sweetheart thing beautifully, but eventually, I need more than that.

  17. Native Minnow – It’s too damn bad when work wins out, however, it does more often than not end up the victor. I’m right there with you on Roberts as one-the-fence is an apt description. She was fine in this movie.

    Troll – That’s a good line on Roberts as I’ll have to store it away for a dinner party sometime. As for the tourney, you’ve got all year to clean out people’s money, so maybe a weekend off isn’t the worst thing in the world – think of it as yr. altruistic spirit shining through & letting people keep their cash.

    Linda – Light, but enjoyable was my take as well. I thought Roberts was pretty good in ‘Closer,’ although Owen really owned that movie. And you’re right as this would serve as an excellent rental, maybe better than seeing it in the theater at all.

    Boxer – I think Roberts is less about talent than other intangible factors. She does have something about her that causes people to throw money at her, although this movie didn’t open nearly as well as people thought it might, so . . . Anyway, I think Roberts has some talent (focused in particular areas), but Owen I can watch in just about anything (although the International looked boring to me and I skipped it).

  18. Bostonpobble - Flew by you in Cyberspace & I just signed up for Netflix last week, so I'm about to see if I like it. This one would be a good one to add to your Queue (sp?) if you like Owen. As for Roberts, this film utilizes her talents fairly well.

  19. Miss Ash Says:
  20. Exotic locales...I'm in!! I've actually wanted to see this film and to be honest I kinda like JR.

  21. kmwthay Says:
  22. The previews of this movie sort of remind me of Mr. and Mrs. Smith without all of the action.

    Maybe a cross between Mr. and Mrs. Smith and America's Sweethearts... I don't know. Something about the story seems ever so familiar.

    I think I will wait for Netflix.

    How did you do in your bracket?
    The flippin Midwest region really, really screwed me up. I'm still doing ok though - I've got 14 of the sweet 16. Arizona and Xavier screwed that up for me.

  23. CHEF TROLL Says:
  24. 2Bucks,

    Don't use that line. I stole it from Roberts who presumably stole it from someone who has an IQ higher than her 95.

    Originally, it was "Republicans are between Reptile and Repugnant in the dictionary."

  25. Farzan Says:
  26. Very cool blog, I also enjoyed this movie to some extent. It did start off alittle slow, but I think the great chemistry between Owen and Roberts made up for it.

  27. slopmaster Says:
  28. Owen is awesome, I don't know anyone that doesn't like him. If I could be any actor, I would be either him or Clooney. Pitt would just be too much.

  29. Miss Ash – Exotic is relative as you’ve been some places . . . Ha. But the movie does track to Dubai, Miami, Rome, London and others, which I enjoyed. As for JR, I’m fine with her, and that places her higher than most actors in my book.

    Kmwthay – It’s a familiar story (far less action than Mr & Mrs Smith), but it has enough plot twists to keep it interesting. Netflix would be good. As for the brackets, you’re doing great as I nailed 13 out of the 16 left and am currently third in my bracket with a chance to pull through depending on how things turn the rest of the way. I also got screwed by the two you mentioned as well as Kansas advancing (this was a dumb pick on my part).

    ChefTroll – Thanks for the heads up . . . there was a bad but entertaining movie – Johnny Be Good – that used a similar line “if you’re looking for sympathy you can look between shit and syphilis in the dictionary” that I always enjoyed & still use. The Republican one is good too (hadn’t heard it before).

    Farzan – Thanks, and I agree as it takes a bit to pick up, but the chemistry was great and I can always watch Owen as he’s a cool guy onscreen. For what it was, I thought ‘Duplicity’ worked just fine.

    Slopmaster – Agree with the entire statement, and even though you’re right about Pitt, it would probably be fun to push things to the limit for a little while, eh? Ha. Too much of a good thing is still good sometimes.


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