The Identical

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Identical Movie Poster Image
Musical melodrama lacks charisma but is fine for tweens.
  • PG
  • 2014
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie has positive messages about faith, talent, and pursuing your passions. It encourages the use of your talents and conveys the importance of honoring your parents and supporting your spouse.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The twins' parents make tough but selfless decisions to give their sons the best lives possible. The Wades love their son and encourage him to follow his calling. Ryan has a loving and supportive wife and family. Jenny wants Ryan to pursue singing because it makes him happy.

Violence

A police officer strikes and pushes a young man and threatens to arrest a bunch of others. A couple of characters die or are hospitalized, upsetting other characters.

Sex

Married couples embrace and kiss a few times.

Language

Racist language includes the white sheriff going into a "negro club" and calling it "dark and stinky"; also a couple of uses of "damn" and "hell."

Consumerism

City of Peace records, which is run by the filmmakers, is featured in the movie.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Young adults smoke cigarettes in a couple of scenes (accurate for the movie's time period), and marijuana (called "hooty weed") is mentioned in an integrated music and dance club. Characters in clubs are also briefly shown drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Identical is a family drama about an Elvis-like superstar whose "double"/impersonator is actually his twin brother. The movie's star (an actual Elvis impersonator) and many of the movie's biographical details are obviously Elvis references, but the movie is more of a faith-based drama than a Presley-sanctioned biopic. There's little-to-no language ("damn" and "hell," sparingly), violence (although a sheriff does strike the protagonist), or sex, but the movie's themes might be too mature for very young viewers. There's also some smoking, though it's accurate for the movie's time period. Although no knowledge of Elvis Presley is required, those who do know something about his life (like that he was born with a stillborn twin or that he had Jewish ancestry) will appreciate the various nods to his legacy. The filmmaker belongs to the Messianic Jewish faith, so there are overt references to special bond between Christianity and Judaism, as well as pro-Israel messages.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bykids.are.whattheysee September 6, 2014

Heartwarming and fun movie

Our whole family enjoyed watching this movie. Positive messages about choices, life, and adoption. Happy to support a non-Hollywood movie with values (instead... Continue reading
Parent Written byDan G. September 12, 2014

Good family movie although the youngest may be uninterested

A good family movie that has no bad language, violence, or irresponsible sexuality. The fictional story about an Elvis Presley type character is entertaining f... Continue reading

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What's the story?

During the height of the Depression, young couple Helen (Amanda Crew) and William (Brian Geraghty) Hemsley have identical twin boys they can't really support. On the day of their birth, William attends a revival where charismatic preacher Rev. Wade (Ray Liotta) shares that he and his wife (Ashley Judd) can't have children. The sermon gives William the idea to convince his wife to give one of their baby sons to the Wades; in return, they ask that the Wades not tell their son about his origins until both biological parents are dead. Years later, the mostly unseen Hemsley son grows up to be an Elvis-like rock pioneer known as Drexel "The Dream" Hemsley ... while the Wade-adopted twin Ryan (both are played by Blake Rayne) struggles to be a good preacher's son, even though what he really wants is to sing like his look-alike idol. The movie focuses on Ryan as he works various job and eventually finds that his calling is to become a Drexel impersonator dubbed THE IDENTICAL.

Is it any good?

Even seasoned actors can't save The Identical from seeming like the kind of watered-down family drama that would have been better suited as a Hallmark special than a feature film. As a concept, this story had a lot of promise, offering an alternative universe in which Elvis' identical twin survived (in real-life, the second Presley baby was stillborn) and grew up raised by other parents. Of course, the filmmakers couldn't use Elvis' name, but everything about Drexel "The Dream" Hemsley was created to remind viewers of Elvis, including the casting of Rayne, who's actually a Presley impersonator. But unfortunately the filmmakers took their fascinating idea and turned it into a bland, whitewashed story devoid of the charisma that made Presley such an amazing performer. Rayne might look and sound the part, but he's not a capable enough actor to carry this story.

Another of the movie's major problems is that it focuses solely on the adopted twin, when it would have been so much more compelling to show both boys growing up into similarly musical men -- one a star, the other frustrated. Luckily for viewers, Rayne is surrounded by capable veteran actors, like Liotta, who does a decent enough job as the earnest preacher; Judd as the mysteriously never-aging mother; and Seth Green as the comic-relief drummer who's known Ryan since he as kid.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether The Identical should be perceived an alternative history of Elvis' life or just a fictional drama. What are the similarities to Elvis' life? What are the differences?

  • How do you think this movie compares to other faith-based films? Does the movie have overt religious messages? Do you think you need to be a Christian to enjoy it?

  • What do you think about the original music; is it representative of the time period? Does it make you want to listen to or learn more about Elvis, even though it's not his music?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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