Projections - Movie Reviews

Duets Duets

In what was one of the most anticipated films of the summer, Duets provides us a glimpse into the world of professional Karaoke singers.  Much like the want to be stars of Karaoke, Duets appears at times to want to be a comedy, other times a drama and yet others to be a feel good road trip movie.

It is unfortunate that in over two hours, no clear direction is chosen.

The six main characters are all thrust into a regional singing competition with a $5000 grand prize hanging in the balance.  The characters are paired off early with Gwyneth Paltrow as the newly found daughter of Huey Lewis (yes, the 80’s Huey Lewis and the News star) who is a “professional” karaoke singer; Paul Giamatti, a traveling salesman who is haunted by past dealings paired with Andre Braugher an ex-con hoping to go straight; also paired are Maria Bello, a very aggressive waitress with a pension for trading sex for favors and Scott Speedman, a former student of the priesthood turned cab driver.

Directed by Bruce Paltrow, Gwyneth's father, it seems very likely this film got funded as a result of her involvement.  The story meanders between the six main characters and never allows us to see beyond the karaoke facade they put up.  The most interesting characters of Giamatti and Braugher deliver the best of the film with the exception of all of their karaoke performances.

What is truly a shame is that with all the vocal talent and acting abilities, we are treated only to the doldrums of the trip.  Duets appears to be a movie that is taking itself either too seriously or not seriously enough.  Had this been a comedy, had Huey Lewis been allowed to perform songs like his former hits of Power of Love or This Is It and had we been allowed to follow more competition between the six characters, we would have had a very good film.  Had we followed the dark side of the story, the setups, the side bets, the slipping into a subculture we know little about - again a very good film could have developed.

All in all, this is not a bad film, there are moments that are truly spectacular, just not enough of them.


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