In Multiplicity, Michael Keaton has himself cloned, not for the betterment of mankind or science, but to have someone to help around the house. The film made us wish we had clones, so that they could sit and watch it while we played a few rounds of Street Fighter Alpha. It's a fairly dreary film with only a few bright spots.
Keaton plays Doug Kinney, a henpecked building contractor with too little time. Out of the blue, a scientist offers him the chance to create a clone, who will be his exact duplicate. Between the two of them, Doug's time problems can be solved. So Doug does it, thinking that his golf game is about to improve.
However, Doug is in a movie, so of course he is married to Andie MacDowell, has Richard Masur as a boss, and John DeLancie as a toadying office rival (DeLancie is best known as Star Trek's 'Q'-- proof that even an omnipotent being couldn't help this film). And it also means that Doug's scheme to use "2" as a surrogate self is doomed to failure. Neither one of them can remember who's supposed to be in any given place at any given time, and neither one of them likes their situation. Doug, with his extra time, now has to cope with his kids when his wife goes back to work, and so he creates another clone, "3," to help out with those chores. More "hilarity" results as they try to keep the wife, Laura, in the dark about the whole situation.
There's no reason that this movie shouldn't work. There's a difference between a movie with a good concept but a poor execution, like Multiplicity, and a movie that's just a bad idea to begin with, like The Lonely Lady. The concept of cloning yourself in order to get more done is pretty neat; it's just that these characters lack the social graces and the organization to make the most of their situation. Doug is always a selfish jerk, and the clones don't seem to mind that they're working so that he can take sailing lessons and play golf. Who wrote this crap, anyway?
Oh, wait, that's right, Harold Ramis (and company) wrote this crap! What the heck was he thinking? We know Ramis can be funny: he has Stripes, Animal House, and Ghostbusters to his credit. So what was going on here? As a director, Ramis also failed to take advantage of Keaton's comic abilities -- the only time the man had any fun was when he got to play "4," the brain-damaged clone made from a clone. And who cast Andie MacDowell in this film? What happened, Harold -- did you lose a bet? This is your second film in a row with MacDowell in the female lead!
Fortunately, there are a few places in the film where trademark Ramis sight gags and one-liners intrude upon the wasteland of Multiplicity. Again, these are mostly in places where Ramis lets Keaton go with Clone #4. The rest of the movie is boring, sentimental claptrap. (Actually, we don't know what "claptrap" means, but it sounds good.) If you have a special attachment to the work of Michael Keaton, give Multiplicity a try. Otherwise, you should only watch this movie once you've got your own clone doing laundry for you in the next room.
Review date: 2/4/97
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