Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Copy Concept Gets Jammed in 'Multiplicity' Promising Premise Is Low in Entertainment Value

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Copy Concept Gets Jammed in 'Multiplicity' Promising Premise Is Low in Entertainment Value

Article excerpt

The term "high concept" is less of a buzz-phrase than it was a decade ago, but its influence on Hollywood still lingers. For those who don't remember when '80s movie execs used to trot it out on talk shows, it refers to a commodity much loved by profit-minded producers: pictures with premises so simple and catchy that you can summarize them in a single sentence.

Pithiness is a fine idea if you're writing TV listings, bumper stickers, or fortune-cookie messages. But it seems a bit risky if a budget of $20 million or more is hanging on the 20 or 30 words your "high concept" contains.

Which brings us to "Multiplicity," the new Michael Keaton movie. It's easy to imagine the studio conference where some creative wizard glanced at a note pad, did a bit of modest throat-clearing, and proudly uttered the day's winning formula: "A guy who's too busy decides to get cloned, and each clone has a different personality, and his wife doesn't know who's the real him!"

It's not easy to sit through the movie spawned by this notion, though, proving once again that a picture can be simultaneously high in concept and low in entertainment value.

"Multiplicity" stars Keaton as Doug Kinney, a man with typical modern problems. His job is fulfilling but demanding, leaving him too little time with his family. He's so busy he forgets all about his daughter's graduation - it's only from Campfire Girls, but hey, that's important - and things can only get worse if his wife goes back to work, which she's itching to do.

The solution? Everyone has dreamed of it, but only in the movies could it really happen. A brilliant scientist strolls into the picture, announcing that miracles are his business and clones are his stock in trade. He straps our hero into a fancy machine, fiddles with some computer gear, and presto! - there's a duplicate Doug ready to relieve the actual Doug of life's extra burdens. …

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