“The Identical,” now available on Blu-ray and DVD, tells the compelling story of Ryan Wade, a young man of many musical abilities hoping that these talents will take him to the big time. What stands in his way is his father, a successful pastor whose dreams for his son are much different and center around the ministry and pastoring a church. Meanwhile, another young man is taking the world by storm with his new style of music, and not only his appearance, but also his talents, mirrors those of Ryan. Ryan is a dead ringer for this superstar, Drexel Hemsley, in both sounds and looks, and he builds a successful career as a Drexel impersonator – known as The Identical. It’s the secret behind this similarity that propels the story forward.

Newcomer Blake Rayne plays Ryan (and Drexel), and viewers will certainly notice parallels between this fictionalized account of Ryan and Drexel and that of the real-life Elvis Presley story, in part due to Blake’s resemblance to Elvis, and the fact his real-life career is as an Elvis impersonator. But the story content parallels Elvis, too, and embracing this element of the film allows the viewers some “inside” fun as it progresses. As an actor, Blake holds his own and carries the film well. He does a great job with the emotional roller coaster of his on-screen characters, and he handles the dual roles with equal aplomb. It doesn’t hurt to be surrounded by an all-star cast featuring Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green, Joe Pantoliano, Brian Geraghty, and Amanda Drew. Ray Liotta (“Goodfellas,” “Field of Dreams”) is incredible in his juicy role as Ryan’s preacher father: from fire and brimstone preaching to delicate counseling, through anger and sadness, all the while aging from a young man to an old man, he is phenomenal as Reece Wade. Equally impressive and enjoyable to watch is Ashley Judd (“Divergent,” “Dolphin Tale 2”) as Ryan’s mother and the preacher’s wife. She too moves through the ages and the emotions in this convincing portrayal, arguable one of her best roles in years. Rounding up the stellar all-star cast is Seth Green (“Austin Powers,” “Family Guy”) as Ryan’s friend and band mate Dino, who introduces Ryan to the “worldly joy of rhythm and blues;” Brian Geraghty (“The Hurt Locker,” “Ray Donovan”) and Amanda Crew (“Charlie St. Cloud”) as Drexel’s father and mother; Joe Pantaliano (“The Sopranos,” “The Matrix”) as Ryan’s employer and mentor; and Erin Cottrell (the “Love Comes Softly” series) as Ryan’s wife. This all-star cast is top notch.

“The Identical” is an extremely good-looking movie with a well-executed production, and the attention to detail in recreating several historical time periods (yes, not one, but four) is stunning. No short cuts here: using many period automobiles and trucks (and one gorgeous motorcycle), the sets are simply amazing; the costuming is spot-on and very detailed (an afro comb, no less, from the ’70s; groovy psychedelic ’60s garb; as well as precision period costumes from the ’40s and ’50s). Soaking in the recreations from the past is just one more joy while watching “The Identical.” Five stars for Production Designer Keith Brian Burns and Costume Designer Karyn Wagner.

On another note, this film is being promoted as a faith-based film, and certainly there are elements of religion throughout this picture, but it is not an in-your-face conversion sort of picture, nor one filled with sermons from the pulpit. No, this movie merely tells a compelling story wrapped in a religious worldview, filled with religious people, and with religion presented as “normal” or a basic way of life. Refreshing indeed, and the kind of movie that many in the industry say is lacking, with most movies being extremely secularized or extremely “religious,” with nothing in between: good solid family fare movies with a moral worldview. “The Identical” is this sort of a family fare picture. Kudos to the producers for this, and hopefully this will be a trend in Christian and Hollywood films.

“The Identical” is the perfect movie to enjoy with your family, appropriate for tween, teens, parents and grandparents. Pick up your copy of “The Identical.” There’s nothing quite like it.

  1. Kay Wheeler says:

    It was good but maybe they should have had the twin go into a Gospel quartet which was always Elvis’ wish. That would have been a good inspirational play on the story. But they missed it. A little more research on Elvis or consulting with Elvis authorities might have been a wise move here. Instead they just turned it into an Elvis impersonator story. The guy was really good –don’t get me wrong. But the “unsaved” public walked out with such comments as “what was that all about.” ? it seems like that something got lost in the shuffle. But some very good acting and good production that sadly missed making a great, inspiring point.

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