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Double Whammy
Bizarre tragi-comedy about an ineffectual New York cop with a bad back

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Suffering from a bad back, New York detective Ray Pluto fails to stop a hideous crime and is branded a loser by both press and colleagues. Distracted by the attentions of his attractive chiropractor, he finds dramatic events in his apartment building conspiring to thwart him further.

It's hard to classify Double Whammy, mainly because Double Whammy seems to have trouble classifying itself.

It's certainly part comedy - history repeats itself to a farcical extent for Ray, and his effeminate partner (Buscemi) offers some laughs - but it slings in the tragedy with a bravado that sits uneasily with its light tone. No less than six innocent people are killed in the first apparently comic sequence, and we're soon informed that Ray is bereaved of both wife and daughter in traditional cop thriller style.

But there are precious few thrills to be found in a subplot that sees a daughter planning her own father's murder, as the characterisation is far too skimpy to give credence to such an emotionally complex storyline. A romance between Ray and his chiropractor (Hurley) is inoffensive enough, but veteran indie director DiCillo is at his most comfortable with quirky observational dialogue and inventive action. The scene where the screenwriter neighbours finally receive their true-crime inspiration is a delight.

Directionless and tonally confused, but surprisingly likeable thanks to an appealing central character and flashes of humour.

Reviewed by Anna Smith

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