Critics Give ‘The Identical’ Hell: 10 Takedowns Written Better Than the Fictional, Faith-Based Music Biopic

“There’s a very real possibility we’ll have midnight screenings of this picture for years to come,” Guardian critic Jordan Hoffman wrote in his review

“The Identical” is another faith-based theatrical release spreading the word that God is great. Unfortunately for audiences interested in the drama about a fake, Elvis-like singer who impersonates another fake, Elvis-like singer, critics almost unanimously agree the movie is nowhere near even mediocre.

“Run-of-the-mill mediocrities come and go, but ‘The Identical’ is the most woozily misguided flop to grace the screen since the ‘Oogieloves’ movie,” TheWrap‘s Alonso Duralde wrote in his scathing review. “Connoisseurs of the most wonderfully terrible cinema need to run out and catch this one early and often. Flying-Elvis jumpsuit optional.”

Also read: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Should Win Super Slow Box Office Weekend

The movie, directed by first timer Dustin Marcellino and written by Howard Klausner (“Space Cowboys”), has been given the thumbs up by just one critic aggregated by Rotten Tomatoes. The praise was enough for a two percent approval rating, as 44 other critics bashed everything from the acting, the writing, the presentation of its Christian message, and especially the music in this tale about the twin of a rock star growing up to become his most famous impersonator.

For a taste of the disdain for “The Identical,” starring Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd and Seth Green, read 10 takedowns that appear to be more entertaining than the movie:

See photos: 11 of God’s Biggest Hits at the Domestic Box Office

Kansas City Star critic Jon Niccum:

“Elvis Presley had a twin who died at birth. But what if that child lived, was secretly given up for adoption and raised as an unknown with equal musical talent of his own? A movie premise just kooky enough to work? Not even close. ‘The Identical’ is an earnest effort boasting some talented supporting actors and respectable production values, yet it is so misguided that it bombs in jaw-dropping ways. It might join “Xanadu” and “Cool as Ice” in the campy pantheon of all-time worst musical mishaps.”

LA Weekly critic Amy Nicholson:

“‘The Identical’ is Elvis slash fiction that could have been written by a spinster church organist. Its premise is intriguing: What if Jesse Presley, Elvis’ twin brother who was stillborn at birth, was in fact secretly given to a traveling minister (Ray Liotta) and his infertile wife (Ashley Judd)? What happens next is shocking only in its banality. The adopted child (Noah Urrea in his youth, Blake Rayne as an adult) grows up to be a very nice boy. Somebody give this movie a peanut butter and bacon sandwich.”

Also read: ‘God’s Not Dead’ Isn’t Going Away, and Neither Are Faith-Based Films

The Guardian critic Jordan Hoffman:

“Preposterous and amateurish, I am happy to announce that with this one we’ve got that rare thing we always hope for but seldom get – a movie so bad that you’ll want to watch it with all your friends. There’s a very real possibility we’ll have midnight screenings of this picture for years to come.”

Philadelphia Inquirer critic David Hiltbrand:

“Trading strictly in visual and narrative cliches, ‘The Identical’ is so solemn and silly that at times you could swear it was a lampoon. But a spoof wouldn’t dare try to pull off an ending this preposterous and weepy. Would it?”

Arizona Republic critic Randy Cordova:

“Elvis Presley made some bad movies, but let’s give the King his due: He never made anything as outright awful as ‘The Identical.’

USA Today critic Claudia Puig:

“It’s an idea that might have made for a mildly intriguing skit, but blown out into a full-length feature it’s at best campy and at worst an amateurish, sentimental schlock-fest. The casting is off-base, and for a movie about the love of music, the original tunes are thoroughly forgettable.”

McClatchy-Tribune News Service critic Roger Moore:

“A musical mashup of Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis biography and myth, ‘The Identical’ plays like a failed faith-based ‘Inside Llewyn Davis.’ And that’s the closest thing to a compliment it will get … If they wanted to parody an Elvis movie, they succeeded. It’s every bit as misguided and maddening, almost ‘Identical,’ you could say.”

New York Post critic Kyle Smith:

“This groaningly obvious story is going nowhere in particular — the two twins never have a meaningful encounter — and director Dustin Marcellino seems mainly interested in showcasing nearly two dozen knockoffs of Elvis-style numbers written by his grandfather and father (Jerry and Yochanan Marcellino). Guys, next time you have the urge to write ultra-generic pop songs, inflict them on guests at your family reunion instead.”

RogerEbert.com critic Sheila O’Maley:

“The question I have is how the cringe-worthy music in the film, supposed to signify the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, could ever have taken any world by storm? The music in ‘The Identical’ is what it would be like if Elvis skipped the rhythm ‘n blues part of his influence and went straight to pop-lite power ballads. There is no sense in the film’s music of Elvis’ country and western roots or his love of gospel and there are none of the various intersecting influences that made Elvis’ early recordings so genre-bending and revolutionary. All we have in ‘The Identical’ are songs that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a community theatre production of ‘Footloose’ mixed with ‘Les Miserables.’ And we are meant to believe that the entire culture changed because of the music heard in ‘The Identical.'”

Slant critic Chuck Bowen:

“Even a better film would have trouble recovering from Rayne’s performances. There’s no life in the actor’s glassy eyes or slack jaw or infuriatingly flat, affectless line deliveries, as he’s an unthinking monument to a sense of safe, complacent idiocy. There’s no style to this mama’s boy, and that’s never more evident than in a concert sequence that backfires horribly because it features extras who effortlessly steal Rayne’s thunder. The worst thing that can be said about Rayne is that he perfectly embodies this almost unbelievably awful film’s neutered textbook vision of Elvis Presley. He’s the perfect Elvis for someone who insists that the King was an overrated fraud.”

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