Picks and Pans Review: Multiplicity

updated 07/22/1996 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/22/1996 01:00AM

Michael Keaton, Andie MacDowell, Eugene Levy

Think of this overwrought comedy as a more ponderous variation on the 1983 Keaton vehicle Mr. Mom. In this case, Keaton plays a chronically harried Los Angeles construction foreman who has himself cloned at the genetic research lab of a client (Harris Yulin) so that the clone can relieve some of his workload. He eventually has another clone made to help out the first one, and the first clone generates a third, a distorted copy who comes out as an annoying mix of Adam Sandler, the young Jerry Lewis and Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

Director Harold Ramis uses his computerized effects nicely—the multiple Keatons coexist onscreen simultaneously in convincing fashion. Indeed, the effects are much more accomplished than the script, which only clumsily exploits the inventive cloning premise and bogs down in a maudlin digression involving the details of Keaton's and MacDowell's unhappy marriage.

MacDowell's leaden approach to comedy isn't helped by the fact that she's playing a sullen, self-pitying wife. Keaton, a past master at throwaway lines, maintains the often frenetic pace, helped by Ramis's old SCTV pal Levy as an irascible cement contractor and Richard Masur as Keaton's boss. Everyone seems to be trying hard, but there's little more than one joke here. When you've seen one Keaton, you've seen them all. (PG-13)

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