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Kooky plotting but fun performances in pulpy 'The Lookalike'

 Kooky plotting but fun performances in pulpy 'The Lookalike'
Jerry O'Connell, left, and John Corbett in the movie "The Lookalike." (Well Go USA)

The spirit of Elmore Leonard hangs over the characters but not the kooky plotting of "The Lookalike," a New Orleans-based crime thriller that makes the most of its cast of familiar faces.

Gangsters Bobby (John Corbett) and Frank (Steven Bauer) are left scrambling after a freak accident kills the woman who had captured the interest of a prospective business associate. Their solution: Find a convincing replacement. For that they turn to Joe (Jerry O'Connell), a drug-dealing former pro basketball player who dreams of getting his own cooking show on the Food Network.

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It turns out Joe's debt-ridden, addicted brother, Holt (Justin Long), has just started dating someone (Gillian Jacobs) who happens to bear a distinct resemblance to the dead woman.

It all gets sillier as the film goes along, but credit Australian screenwriter Michele Gray for coming up with undeniably quirky characters, most memorably a cancer-stricken, one-legged, deaf cocktail waitress with her own agenda (terrifically played by Scottie Thompson).

Weaving a cohesive tapestry from these threads proves trickier. Director Richard Gray, the writer's husband and a man obsessed with slow motion, doesn't build necessary tension into the playfully pulpy material.

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"The Lookalike."

MPAA rating: None.

Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.

Playing: Los Feliz 3; Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.

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