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A review of "Double Trouble" (1992)

The Short Bit for People Who Don't Like to Read Reviews

I'm no stranger to the Barbarian Brothers, so I knew - nay, hoped - I would get a lot of high energy antics with no underlying logic or reason.  But unlike some of their other movies, Double Trouble doesn't quite work.  It's got enough awesomely bad moments that you could still get a kick out of it.  Unfortunately, an uneven tone and some really flat jokes mar the overall experience.

My Rating: 2.5 / 5

The Part Where I Summarize the Plot

Peter Jade (Peter Paul) is a master cat burglar / jewel thief who steals a valuable item from a building owned by Philip Chamberlain (Roddy McDowall), an underhanded white collar criminal.  When David Jade (David Paul), Peter's twin brother and a master cop, reports to the scene, Peter evades capture.

Then David's partner is murdered and it somehow means that he has to partner with Peter in order to catch Chamberlain.  I'm pretty lost on how that happened, to be honest.

Like The Barbarians, Double Trouble is a movie where you can see the plot progressing and you have a sense of what's currently happening, but it's hard to connect each scene with what happens before or after.  There's only ever a nebulous connection between the characters and you kinda have to fill in the gaps with your own knowledge and expectations of cop movies.

Consider the opening.  Peter breaks into a vault of diamonds using a sort of science-fiction laser device and grabs the jewels.  I'm with you so far, movie.  Then Peter calls the cops on himself.  Um... okay, that's weird, but I'm still with you.  I'm guessing that the cops will factor into his escape plan in some way, right?  Now cut to Peter narrowly escaping David and getting away just in the nick of time.  What?  Why?

Next it cuts to David at the station getting laughed at by his fellow cops for not catching the crook - even though David could (in theory) give a positive ID on the suspect.  One of the cops gives him a kitten as a joke - "because it's a cat burglar!"  (Where's the scene of that cop getting the kitten in the first place?  I'm picturing him at PetSmart filling out the paperwork and the clerk asks him, "So, getting this for your kid?"  And then he gets tight-lipped and goes, "Uh... yes.  Yes, my... kid.")

Next it cuts to David's partner getting killed.  Where's the linking tissue between all of this?  Shouldn't we be concerned about the string of jewel thefts?  Where did the fucking cat come from?

You pretty much have to just get on board with the arbitrary progression of plot or you can't get anything out of it.  Double Trouble is very much in the same vein as the Barbarian Brothers' other films, so if you've seen one of those, you know exactly what you'll get here.

The Part Where I Complain About Shitty Cops (Yet Again)

I get that this is a comedy, but it's really pushing the limits of how shitty a cop you can be in a movie.  David and his partner are so incompetent and unprofessional that it ends up being more irritating than it is funny.

In their very first appearance, they show up to the crime scene driving a beat-up car and wearing plain clothes - David in a Raiders sweater and his partner in a mini-skirt and giant, platform hooker heels.  So, right off the bat, I'm not sure I understand what's going on.  Is the joke simply that they both look like crap?  And if so, how is that a joke?

Are they both undercover cops and they were running a sting operation to break up a prostitution ring?  And if so, why did they leave that operation to come investigate a robbery?  Doesn't LA have any other cops that can do this?  Why do they charge into the crime scene with their guns out and ready?  Aren't you supposed to keep your weapon holstered until you actually need it?

Later, the chief decides to partner him with Peter simply because Peter has "information," but that doesn't make any sense.  I can believe Peter is an informant, but informants don't start riding around in the passenger seat and solving crimes with cops.  They just inform and get the hell out.

Or what about the scene where David and Peter beat up an armed thug in David's apartment, then just leave him there?  No handcuffs, no calling in the assault to HQ, nothing.  They just leave.  On top of that, a fellow cop, Whitney, has been knocked unconscious and left to enjoy a nasty concussion.

I know that most comedies paint with broad strokes, but Double Trouble's brush is so wide I can't even recognize the output.  Is David a cop or is he just a goon?  If he's a cop, can the movie at least pretend like he's trying to arrest somebody?  Hell, it doesn't even end with a scene where he collars the bad guy and his angry chief congratulates him - it just ends with David killing the bad guy and then chasing after his brother like a cartoon character.

Can you imagine a world where all the police were like this?  God, that would be terrifying.  You'd come home and find a couple of dudes in mustard-stained sweatshirts rooting through your DVDs and your pantry, and when you asked what they were doing, they'd just give you a cocky little smirk and say, "Searching for clues.  Got any beer?"

And you can't do a damn thing about it.  Because they're above the law.  They'll just crash at your place for a little while and occasionally a dead body will show up, and there's no one you can complain to.  (Keep in mind that the one time the Chief does yell at David, he's not really upset so much about his behavior as he is the lack of results.)

The only bright side is that they probably won't do anything to you.  They're not corrupt - they're just assholes.

The Part About the Uneven Tone

The Barbarian Brothers are known for being man children.  Their whole shtick is acting like blockheaded goobers who get into PG-rated antics while failing to solve whatever problem is at hand.  They're basically just hulking versions of Bill and Ted, but seventy percent less stoned.

This means they work best when they're in actual PG or PG-13 rated movies.  The simple fact is you can't put good-natured nutballs in a sleazy, R-rated situation without putting across a conflicted tone.  Double Trouble does exactly this.

It makes for a lot of jarring moments where the twins' sensibilities are dulled by the violence, and the violence is made inert by the goofiness around it.  For example, the twins pin down a thug in David's apartment using a heavy barbell.  He struggles underneath it.  When we cut back to him later, his throat has been cut and the camera zooms in on a grotty neck wound.  What are we supposed to do with that?  It's not funny, but it's not really shocking, either.  It's just this weird moment of gratuitous gore.

Or perhaps look at another scene where the twins go to shake down the villain in his lair.  A random security guard is rendered immobile - it's not clear if he's knocked out or if he's dead, but I'm going to go with dead.  In the next shot, the twins use his body like a puppet to knock on the villain's office door and trick the bad guys into opening it.

It's a scene that could be funny in a dark comedy.  Or, if the guard was clearly alive, it could be funny here.  But given everything else that happens, it just feels... uncomfortable.  Like, these two jokers might actually be sociopaths.  (You never do see that cat again.)

The last thing I'll say about the tone is to point out a random little moment from early on.  In a moment of frustration, David sets up his exercise gear in his apartment and starts angrily working out.  Then the camera cuts to a brief shot of his young, skinny blonde neighbor smoking a cigarette and listening to his workout groans with a look of erotic ecstasy on her face.  This is neither set up, nor does it pay off in any way whatsoever.  It's just a weird, tiny little wafer of sleaze.

Which now makes me think of what the Bill and Ted movies would have looked like if it randomly cut to them in a strip club.  Probably they would be busy talking about their band while the camera trained itself on Station drooling at the next performer.  Ugh.

The Part About Miscellaneous Other Things

I don't have a lot more to say about this movie, but there were a handful of other moments that I wanted to point out.

First, after David gets back home from the police station with the cat, there's a sequence that's set up to show how much of a slob he is.  He pours cat litter into his sink to turn it into a litter box and then puts baby food on a plate for the cat to eat.  Then he makes some snarky comment and leaves.

I don't really get this.  I know they're trying to set him up as a goof, but neither one of these things makes any damn sense.  You have to go out of your way to fuck up this bad, David.  Cats are the easiest thing in the world to feed.  You literally just buy a giant bag of food and dump it out.  It doesn't even have to go in a bowl - cats will eat it off the floor.  Baby food's expensive, man.  For like half a dozen jars of baby food you can get a pretty decently sized bag of crunchies and be set for weeks.  And a litter box can be anything.  Why your sink?  It's like you're not just a slob but a sort of Overachiever Slob, like you would do anything in your power to go for the most uncomfortable, grossest, dirtiest, stupidest option.

Later, David complains to Peter about having to wear a suit and acts like he's never put one on before.  But both his suit and Peter's suit were in David's closet, so obviously he owns two of them.  You bought two suits specifically to avoid ever wearing them?  Again: Overachiever Slob.

Finally, there's one really great moment that I actually enjoyed a lot.  There's a scene where the bad guys are looking at a surveillance tape of Peter stealing some diamonds, and while they're watching, there's a peppy, jazzy tune on the soundtrack.  Then a thug pauses the tape and the music stops abruptly.

I'm sure this was just the film's editor making himself laugh, but I liked it for the implication that an office building would pipe in peppy music over the PA system 24 hours a day.

Where You Can Watch

Double Trouble is not currently available on streaming services, but I saw it on Youtube before it got pulled.  I'd recommend you just check for it there and see if somebody reposts it. Or if you're just interested in the visuals, you can watch it in French.