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Clonesome Blues

No, says Multiplicity, you don't want to be two places at once

Multiplicity is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, even when it settles for obvious and predictable gags. There is a restaurant scene, for example, that has Doug No. 1 having dinner with his wife at one table, while Doug No. 2 puts the moves on a co-worker at another table. One thing leads to another, and the result is some very familiar slapstick. But, hey, funny is funny, and at the very least, the scene should put a great big grin on your face.

And yet, for all that, there is a soberingly serious undercurrent to Multiplicity. And, no, I don't mean the one that Ramis and his writers obviously intend for us to notice. Yes, it's true, as the movie emphasizes, we have to slow down, set priorities, come to terms with limitations and take advantage of opportunities. (We should also acknowledge our inner children, I suppose, though sometimes I think the little brats are too pampered already.) But what's slightly unsettling about Multiplicity is the element of cautionary finger-wagging. In showing how cloning yourself really won't improve your life, or the lives of those around you -- like we really needed to be told this, right? -- Ramis appears to be turning his back on the very magic he used to tantalize us in Groundhog Day.

Perhaps this is a good sign, indicating that he's maturing as a filmmaker as well as a human being. Still, I don't think you have to be as delusional as Blanche DuBois to prefer magic over realism, at least when it comes to movie fantasies. Multiplicity is entertaining and amusing, and may even generate a few shocks of recognition among the stressed-for-success folks in its audience. But I don't think anyone will walk away from it with a rueful grin and a wistful feeling of, "Gee, if only that could happen to me ...."

Multiplicity.
Directed by Harold Ramis. Starring Michael Keaton and Andie MacDowell.
Rated PG-13.
110 minutes.

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