Eddie Griffin, stand-up comic and star of the defunct UPN sitcom “Malcolm & Eddie.” Orlando Jones, co-star of “The Replacements” and commonly recognized as the “7-Up Guy.” Put these two together, and you get an action comedy that can be called just about anything… but funny.
Despite what the ads lead one to believe, “Double Take” is not about swapping identities so much as simply swapping outfits. When some heavies target Wall Street banker Daryl Chase (Jones) thanks to some dirty dealings at his firm, he trades clothes with loudmouth street hustler Freddy Tiffany (Griffin) to get out of a sticky situation. After the danger has been avoided and the two take a long trip to Mexico for safety, for some reason the pair never think to switch back, and for equally inscrutable reasons they start to play at being the other–leading to all sorts of mistaken identity situations. Never mind that their impressions of each other wouldn’t fool anybody, nor the fact that Griffin and Jones simply LOOK NOTHING ALIKE–in changing from formal to casual wear, they are taken as completely different people.
Maybe writer-director George Gallo was trying to make some sociopolitical comment about how non-blacks think all blacks look alike, but that’s giving him way too much credit. Besides, Gallo has a lot of other things on his mind: namely the convolutions of his overly plotted script. “Double Take” appears to be a lark of an entertainment, but there are so many sudden doublecrosses and reversals that it’s bewildering. Not that deciphering the plot is worth the effort; the explanations Gallo offers are crude at best. If there’s anything Gallo successfully does, it’s confuse the audience.
And if there’s one thing Gallo certainly does not do, it’s make the audience laugh. Given the right material Griffin and Jones can be funny, but one would never know that from the few amusing moments they are able to create here. Jones’ more lively qualities are muted in the straight man role, and the goofy Griffin is hardly convincing when called to do gunblazing action, not to mention he’s just hampered in general by the PG-13 limitations. He was a lot more effective in the misbegotten Master P vehicle Foolish–a far worse film than “Double Take,” mind you, but at least there he wasn’t required to rein in his more profane (and more effective) comic instincts.
But a lack of joyous abandon is the least of “Double Take”‘s problems. So what is the greatest? A writer-director with a half-baked script and not the vaguest clue of how to bring it to life.