THE IDENTICAL – A Review by John Strange

By: John ’Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Dustin Marcellino
Cast: Erin Cottrell, Amanda Crew, Brian Geraghty, Seth Green, Ashley Judd, Joe Pantoliano, Blake Rayne, Ray Liotta
MPAA Rating: PG (for thematic material and smoking)
Selig Rating: FULL PRICE
Runtime: 107 Min.
The Identical tells the story of twins, born in the South during the 1930’s.  The country was deep in the Depression and jobs were scarce.  The Hemsleys, William (Brian Geraghty) and Helen (Amanda Crew), were barely getting by.  With a child on the way, their outlook was bleak.  When twins arrive the couple is beside themselves with fear for their future.
An answer to their need appears in the form of a traveling minister, the Reverend Reece Wade (Ray Liotta) and his wife, Louise (Ashley Judd).  The Wade’s are not able to conceive and the offer of a son is an offer they can’t refuse.  William gives Reverend Wade an envelope to be given to his son, Dexter Ryan Hemsley, once both he and Helen have passed away.
Years pass and the two boys (both played by Blake Rayne) grow up following different paths.  One becomes an amazing rock-n-roll superstar, Drexel “The Dream” Hemsley while the other, now known as Ryan Wade, is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps in a religious calling.  Neither man knows of the others existence.  Ryan’s love of singing is forcing its way to the forefront of his personality.  Like his parents, he neither drinks nor smokes but he does love going to honky-tonks to listen to the music and sing his own songs.
This side of his personality is extremely upsetting to his father, all the more so because he brings an under-age young lady with him on one of the forays to the local club.  Along on the night is his friend, Dino (Seth Green), a young man who is much more free-spirited than Ryan.  To help Rayn settle down, Reverend Wade makes Ryan enlist in the Army.
Rather than freeing Ryan from his love of singing, the Army gives him a confidence that shows in his singing.  Following the Army, Ryan is enrolled in a good college to earn an ecumenical degree.  To earn money, Ryan works for a parcel service (ala UPS).  During one of his deliveries he both reunites with the young lady from the interrupted honky-tonk date and meets his birth mother in the final moments of her life.  He is confused when she looks at him and calls him Dexter.
Ryan has always idolized Drexel.  He enters a contest looking for the best Drexel “The Dream” Hemsley impersonator in the country.  His competition is laughable.  He hakes it to the finals where Drexel himself tells the judges that Ryan is the winner.  This lands him a gig as “The Identical” impersonating “The Dream” 200+ days a year at state fairs and other venues.  But is being “The Identical” all that Ryan wants from life?
The stories of Drexel and Ryan are a mixture of tales reminiscent of the stories we all know of Elvis Presley with hints of Stevie Ray Vaughn.  The writer has woven the tales into a wonderful saga as Ryan grows into his talent and slowly learns who he really is.  The story and the music meld into something special.  This is a strong film of faith and love that I will want in my collection, to watch again and again. 
Blake Raine carried off the two lead characters of this film flawlessly.  He has an amazing voice and once won an Elvis impersonator competition.  I look forward to listening to the soundtrack and any albums of his I can find! 
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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