Duets is a road-trip comedy which revolves around the little known world of karaoke and the whimsical characters who inhabit it. There's the struggling singer who dreams of making it to the big time, a frustrated salesman who ends up on an unexpected road trip, the dysfunctional family performers which includes a con-artist and his long lost daughter, and an escaped convict with the voice of an angel. All roads lead to Omaha, site of a national karaoke competition where this motley group of singers and stars come together for a blow-out sing-off. Written by
I often wonder why I watch so many movies, and why I love them so. It isn't because they often explore new territory or challenge my intellect, but then there's a whole public library and a Barnes and Noble in every strip mall for that. No, I think it must be the escapist delight of allowing myself to be absorbed for a couple of hours in a well-crafted imaginary world where unbelievable things happen to unrealistic people. It's a guilty pleasure, but hey, sometimes I eat my dessert first. I can handle the guilt.
With that said, as guilty pleasures go, this dessert is a banana split for two with extra nuts and cherries. And one spoon. Huey Lewis and the incomparable Gwyneth Paltrow are a father daughter team trying to get acquainted on the karaoke circuit. He's a karaoke hustler (who knew) and she's a third generation Las Vegas showgirl who is at once worldly and naive.
Paul Giamatti is a shocker. He's amazing as the frustrated salesman who's out "for a pack of cigarette." Along the way, he encounters Reggie Kane (Andre Braugher) a convict on the lam whose quiet desperation is a stark contrast to Giamatti's wanton abandon.
Maria Bello is hilarious as the resourceful bohemeian chasing a dream of big money. Angie Dickenson graces the scene with a tasty cameo. And then there's the singing. OK, Todd Rundgren isn't worried about Giamatti's rendition of the classic "Hello it's Me", and Andre used a voiceover, but Gwyneth can really sing, and her duet with Babyface in the closing credits is a chart-topper in anybody's book.
Directed by Gwyneth's dad Bruce, in his first feature since graduating from the small screen, the word "Duets" describes this enjoyable film in more ways than one. But in the end, the duet that matters is just you and this wonderful little film.
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