In what has been a dismal season at the box office for the movie industry, audiences have failed to turn out for dozens of top titles – including one of the highest quality faith films to be made in years.
Many Christian ticket buyers, it seems, mistakenly concluded “The Identical” – which stars big Hollywood names like Ashley Judd and Ray Liotta and includes 23 original songs created by Motown music legends – was “just an Elvis movie” and didn’t give the production the same boost at the box office they gave other faith films like “Son of God” and “God’s Not Dead.”
Without support from Christian moviegoers and saddled with negative reviews from secular critics, “The Identical” – despite appearing in nearly 2,000 theaters nationwide – flopped at the box office.
The filmmakers, however, told WND they are offering audiences an unprecedented challenge – and the first 15 minutes of the movie free on their website – to prove secular critics of “The Identical” wrong.
“You decide!” announces a bold proclamation on “The Identical” website. “Mainstream film critics did not care for ‘The Identical,’ while Christian reviewers and audiences loved the movie. We are putting the first fifteen minutes online to let you decide for yourself.
“Who will you side with,” the filmmakers ask, “audiences or film critics?”
Viewers are then invited to vote on whether fans or critics got it right.
“The Identical” casts Liotta, perhaps best known for the films “Goodfellas” and “Field of Dreams” and an Emmy Award-winning performance on TV’s “ER,” as Reece Wade, a Depression-era preacher given one of two, infant, twin sons to raise as his own when the boys’ poor parents couldn’t afford both their babies. The film follows the Wade family from the 1930s through the ’70s, as both boys – unknown to one another – grow up allured by the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll.
As WND reported, “The Identical” is infused with faith themes, not just because Liotta’s character is a preacher, but also because his son is on a winding journey of trying to discern God’s call on his life, whether to follow in his father’s footsteps, or those of, ironically, his twin brother.
“You’re going to see a Judeo-Christian thread running throughout the whole film,” Yochanan Marcellino, executive producer of “The Identical,” told WND in an exclusive interview. “We feel that it’s right in our wheelhouse: faith friendly, family friendly, great story, great acting – but that doesn’t make it a ‘religious’ movie.
“It’s a mainstream film,” he concluded. “It has a faith-friendly message and family friendly message weaving through it, but that doesn’t make it religious.”
Nonetheless, there’s been a disparity between how Christian audiences and secular critics have received the film. Indeed, while popular movie-critic sites like RottenTomatoes.com panned “The Identical,” many Christian reviewers found reasons to praise it.
Focus on the Family’s Plugged In review site, for example, gave the film 4.5 out of 5 stars for its family-friendly content and positive messages.
“It’s pretty well made,” says Dr. Ted Baehr of Movieguide.org in his video review. “‘The Identical’ has a wonderful storyline about what are your God-given gifts.”
Movieguide’s official review of the film offers a nuanced opinion: “‘The Identical’ has some script issues with its second half that hinders the ending’s emotional impact. Otherwise, the production is competent, and the movie is entertaining with good performances and fun music. Despite script problems, ‘The Identical’ has a strong message of Christian faith, forgiveness and following God’s calling that naturally flows out of the story. ‘The Identical’ will charm and entertain families and other moviegoers while inspiring positive values.”
Watch the trailer for “The Identical” below: