July 21, 1996 -- "Multiplicity" starts out with a very promising premise. Just when it starts getting interesting, however, it drowns in a sea of slapstick and sentimentality.
Doug Kinney (Michael Keaton), a harried contractor, is stressed out from having to work long hours for not enough money for a boss who is a jerk. There must be at least 100 million people who can identify with that.
Just when Kinney is going bonkers trying to balance the increased demands of work with the demands of his family, he is offered what seems to be an easy way out by the mysterious Doctor Leeds (Harris Yulin). Dr. Leeds says he can clone Kinney, make an exact duplicate of him to help him on the job and around the house.
With barely a nod towards science (the technology doesn't look like real cloning, more like plastic injection molding), or the enormous moral and ethical consequences, Kinney and Leeds go right ahead with it.
The first clone seems to be more of a type A personality and is more macho. Keaton does a very good job of creating multiple personalities for his multiple roles. Number two, as the first clone is called, takes over Kinney's job and becomes a workaholic, much like Kinney's own boss.
Everything seems to be going well, except that Kinney doesn't like doing the housework, so he has another clone made. Number two is a neat, tidy, anal-retentive, slightly effeminate model that likes to cook and clean house.
You can see where this one's headed. Pretty soon the clones decide to clone themselves on the way to the inevitable train wreck.
The story was getting interesting when it began to get into the issues of Kinney's responsibility for his own creations, but in the end he ducks out of all responsibility and that whole issue simply dissolves. And what about Dr. Leeds? He gets away scott free.
Instead of dealing with interesting issues, we get a lot of slapstick comedy and lots of clones hiding and scurrying around the house. And we're supposed to believe that Kinney's wife, Laura (Andie MacDowell), who is no dummy, or their two kids, never figure out what's going on?
It could have been a good story, but it turns out to be thin, despite good acting performances by Keaton and MacDowell. Director Harold Ramis, who also directed one of my favorite comedies, "Groundhog Day," misses the mark here. By the way, I spotted three actors in the film (one was MacDowell) who also appeared in "Groundhog Day," but the magic of that film didn't wear off on this one.
The special effects used to allow Keaton to be doubled and tripled on the screen were adequate, but at times, some of the images seemed slightly out of focus. It wasn't a first-rate job. The film rates a C.
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