Double Duty

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“Action? Comedy? Romance? The Jill of all trades, proves master of few of them.”

After 20 years in the Marines, MJ (Lesseos) returns to civilian life, but finds it somewhat hard to adapt to life as a civilian. Her old college friend Sophie (Duerden) helps her adjust – somewhat – and introduces her to Craig (Sizemore), a designer who is perhaps rather more feminine than MJ. Sophie is working on a charity auction, not realizing her assistant Carl (Freeman) is planning to steal the top item, a Faberge egg. Meanwhile, hypnosis has given MJ the ability to get in touch with her inner woman – but the problem is, every time someone snaps their fingers, she switches between her two personas. There is that of the rough, tough and gruff Marine, and then there’s the other, a giggling girlie for whom breaking a nail would pose a deep, personal crisis. Which will win out when the chips are down?

To be fair, the actors and their characters are not the problem here. The concept of a marine having to return to civilian circumstances has enough in it to power a movie, and Lesseos is believable as a soldier, in a way that many actresses wouldn’t be [see Mena Suvari in the Day of the Dead remake as a counter-example]. Still looks pretty good, given she’s… Well, let’s just say, I was surprised. Sizemore is playing against type – the star of Black Hawk Down and Saving Private Ryan is usually the one who’s in the military – yet is none the less effective for it. However, the entire film is almost stolen by Karen Black, who plays the adviser called in to help MJ become a lady; this unfolds complete with a My Fair Lady reference, at which I must confess I did laugh out loud.

The problem is that the rest of the film falls flat. Lesseos in feminine mode is much less amusing, and does not improve with repetition, shall we say. Some of the comedy is startlingly unfunny, such as the scene where MJ takes on a drunken biker-chick in a bar – I felt embarrassed for all those concerned, just watching it. Although that low point is never quite matched, the bar is set low, and it’s also the kind of film where people only get shot in the arm [that happens three times in about twenty seconds at the climax]. The moments of the heroine kicking butt with some style are sadly few and far between, and I was left with the definite feeling that Lesseos deserves a better vehicle for her talents.

Dir: Stephen Eckelberry
Star: Mimi Lesseos, Tom Sizemore, Susan Duerden, Alfonse Freeman

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