Double Whammy review

Denis Leary is New York detective Ray Pluto, a cop with a bad back, bad conscience and bad spiel. Liz Hurley is chiropractor Ann Beamer, a good woman with a no-nonsense attitude to life. ""Let's get cracking"," Ann says as she gets to work sorting out Ray's vertebrae, a line that's meant to be knowingly naff but comes across as plain naff.

Similar misjudgements abound in indie helmer and scripter Tom DiCillo's otherwise entertaining collision between twisty crime drama and sparky rom-com. It begins when Ray's back gives out during a psycho's murderous spree at a diner, leaving our hero to face the indignity of having an infant-school anklebiter take down the bad guy. Still, it brings our twosome together for a relationship which, in itself, is believable, funny and touching - - even if it is undermined by Hurley's insistence on treating thesping as if it were just a matter of impersonating a pony about to bolt.

The problems come with the subplots. Not only does DiCillo (Johnny Suede, Living In Oblivion) give Steve Buscemi too little to do as Ray's partner, but he unwisely attempts to deliver a broadside on The State Of Modern Cinema by making two wannabe filmmakers (Keith Nobbs and Donald Faison) integral to events.

In a film that's stuffed to bursting with postmodern conceits, this is an irony too far, a case of blundering across the fine line between clever and stupid. And herein lies the irony: when DiCillo ignores such contrivances and instead, for example, focuses on the tragic love-hate relationship of Ray's neighbour Juan Benitez (Luis Guzman) and his teenage daughter (newcomer Melonie Diaz), Double Whammy packs twice the emotional wallop.

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