review for Double Whammy on AllMovie

Double Whammy (2001)
by Josh Ralske review

Tom DiCillo's Double Whammy has the unique distinction of being the indie film darling's most accessible and most challenging film to date. On the one hand, it's a slick cop comedy with reworked tropes from dozens of other films, and it stars recognizable actors like Denis Leary, Elizabeth Hurley, Steve Buscemi, Luis Guzman, and Chris Noth. On the other hand, it's an absurd, reflexive satire of everything it represents, and it richly rewards reading "against the grain." It would be a mistake to take the violent, goofy, and sometimes even offensive shenanigans occurring onscreen at face value. This is a film in which a shot of a fish, which has just literally been shot in a barrel, is immediately followed by a cut to a young hack screenwriter (Keith Nobbs) asking his partner (Donald Faison), "Is that too symbolic?" His partner sagely replies that he's "thinking about Cannes." The film is, in part, an acid critique of their Tarantino-esque penchant for mixing humor, brutality, and ethnic insensitivity without consequences. What's amazing about DiCillo's accomplishment is that he simultaneously makes us care about his troubled characters. Leary, as the screwed-up cop and Hurley as his impulsive chiropractor are genuine and decent enough, and have enough chemistry, to allow us to root for them despite the film's veil of comic artificiality.