In a thin week, it's Richard Roeper, the annoying new sidekick of Ebert who is not really
Hey Whore, how's
the whoring? According to this week's Quote Whore:
The Watcher is "a superb thriller!"
Crime and Punishmentin
Suburbia gets "Thumbs
The Cell gets "an enthusiastic
Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights fucking reserved.
"It's Amateur Night!"
"Duets" is the perfect movie for everyone who wants
to enter the secret world of karaoke. There are four of you.
It's also a great date movie for people who love karaoke, of
course, those people don't get dates. Personally, I would have
rather seen a flick about the shuffleboard hustlers at the Moose
In a bizarre fantasy world where every bar has karaoke and
everyone knows karaoke lingo ("Duets" insists there
is such a thing), a group of misfits sing their hearts out and
head for a big contest in Omaha, Nebraska. But not before they
sort out their personal problems.
Huey Lewis is a karaoke hustler, traveling from town to town
conning the local karaoke folk out of their prize money. He is
called to Las Vegas when his ex-wife dies. At her open casket,
he meets his daughter, the pasty, unhealthy Gwyneth Paltrow.
The movie tells us she's a third-generation Las Vegas showgirl
and the granddaughter of Angie Dickinson. Angie's looking pretty
ragged, like she's not only drinking heavy, but she's working
in the brewery, too. Paul Giamatti is a traveling salesman who
comes to the realization that every fucking salesman in bad movies
comes to, that his life has no meaning. He "goes out for
a pack of cigarettes" and never comes home to his family.
A fat-faced girl gets him hopped up on goofballs and he becomes
a karaoke junkie, roaming the land in search of the next bar
that will let him sing along. On his quest, he picks up Andre
Braugher, an ex-con in need of a ride, but who also happens to
have a wonderful singing voice. Finally, there is Maria Bello,
a tasteless slut and karaoke singer who offers taxi driver Scott
Speedman a lot of sex in exchange for a ride to California.
These six follow their three paths to Omaha, where a $5,000
prize is inexplicably being given away to the best karaoke singer
in the land. Lewis and Paltrow, of course, come to know and love
each other as father and daughter. Braugher and Giamatti get
into all kinds of wacky trouble with Braugher's gun. And not
a single fucking thing happens to Speedman or Bello. It's six
people in search of three stories, and they come up with none.
"Duets" is one of those really shitty slapdash jobs
a studio puts together to capitalize on some recent craze. It's
to karaoke what "Solarbabies" was to inline skating.
Only, karaoke is far from a craze, more like the punchline to
a bad joke someone told ten years ago. That's probably when John
Byrum wrote this hoping to make a fast buck. While "Duets"
supposedly takes place today, Paltrow's showgirl dances at the
Dunes, which closed in 1992. Way to go, John. Next time, spend
the extra five bucks and update your script.
For the first fifteen minutes, I thought "Duets"
was going to be better than expected. The dialog was better than
average, the settings were somewhat interesting and I thought
the movie would go somewhere. But it didn't. Instead it made
characters, who might have been interesting somewhere else, sing
To like this movie, you must be willing to suspend all disbelief
and accept the movie's lame assertion that there is a rabid karaoke
subculture, and the people in it can actually feed and clothe
themselves. A few extras in the movie declare "Karaoke is
a way of life" and we're supposed to understand, not piss
our pants laughing. "Duets" wants to give us a view
of this world so we can experience the excitement ourselves.
Who in the world thought moviegoers wanted to be thrust into
the only hobby less interesting than collecting thimbles (trust
me, I know that's boring because the Mrs. hauls me to ThimbleCon
every year)? Director Bruce Paltrow (yep, Gwynnie's dad, which
is why this fucker got made), that's who. And he doesn't help
by making this movie's pacing and plots limper than a weightlifter's
Paltrow and writer Byrum spend an hour introducing the characters.
We're supposed to fall in love with Bello's spunkiness after
she steals a crippled bum's change cup and trades a blowjob for
a car's paint job. We're expected to sympathize with Giamatti
because he left his wife and kids without saying a word. And
then there's Scott Speedman, Generation Y's very own Noah Wyle.
I think he plays someone who used to burn down black Baptist
churches, or something about religion. I'm not really sure, because
every time he was on screen I fantasized about all the middle-aged
ladies sitting in the audience who came alone. I wondered what
they looked like naked, it wasn't pretty but better than Speedman.
Once "Duets" does get started, the plotting is sloppier
than the diaper of a senior citizen on a liquid diet. We never
see who wins the contest they traveled to Omaha for, but are
instead treated to a "touching" scene of violent death
right after a fat guy sings "Copacabana". The six characters
hardly even cross paths. Well, Speedman and Paltrow exchange
glances of attraction, but when there is only ten minutes left
in the movie, and after Speedman spent the first 100 minutes
with Bello's Holly Hobby Easy-Fuck Oven. And the action is disrupted
three times with scenes of extreme violence. Why? I have no fucking
clue. My guess is that the makers got a hair up their asses that
karaoke is a better backdrop for social drama than light comedy.
And, as much as all these whiny losers supposedly love karaoke,
the movie spends very little time showing that passion. Yes,
they get on stage and sing, but only because singing celebrities
are fucking adorable to People Magazine readers. The movie
throws out no obstacles or challenges for the characters to overcome.
They just drive to Omaha.
A better, but still stupid, movie would be about people who
will do anything to be in Omaha because they're so fucking loony
about karaoke. Show people who quit their jobs, sing every night,
kill their lovers, to be there. But don't waste my time with
a bunch of whiny losers who just happen to show up.
I suppose, though, that facing challenges would have gotten
in the way of all these characters' speeches. They keep trying
to get deep and profound, but they only show that writer Byrum
should be penning Hallmark cards. Each actor is given a few long,
hammy monologues to barf up, and each fails because we've heard
this crap before. Paltrow tells her distant dad that he's afraid
to love her. When he isn't firing a gun at people, Giamatti prattles
about how terrible his life was, but his life is straight from
a Lifetime movie. Speedman talks, too, but I wasn't paying attention.
I was imagining slipping that fat little lady on the aisle out
of her support hose.
Daddy reserved the weakest character for his daughter, too.
Paltrow's showgirl is retarded. I'm pretty sure she is because
she's dumber than anyone I've met who wasn't in a special school,
and she wobbles thorough the movie like her underwear are caught
in her crack. I'm guessing Gwynnie knows the Oscars love celebrities
playing retards, and this is her early bid for another undeserved
golden dildo. I don't doubt that she's got a good retard in her,
but not this one.
Two fingers for "Duets," a singing dog. On
a side note, Paltrow has a passable singing voice, so maybe when
her acting days are over she can sing "Happy Birthday"
to the customers at Chili's. In five years, Gwynnie, make sure
my "Awesome Blossom" is still hot when it gets to the
table. There's an extra dollar in it for you.