Ep. 23: “Double Down” (2005)

This week we watched an admittedly divisive movie.

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In 2005, a real estate salesman name Neil Breen made what is either the most brilliant or the most inane film we’ve ever seen. Which one it is depends on who you ask. I think it’s genius, and Lad and Dave thought otherwise.

This is Neil.

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He is the star, director, writer, sound engineer (if I memory serves), and more. It fits right in with our “Am-auteur-apalooza” theme. In fact, it’s one of the first films we thought of when we came up with the theme.

There are hundreds of screencaps I could have used to illustrate the flaws or strengths of this movie, but think the film works because there are two things driving it. The first is a theory that ties together all the strange, disconnected scenes and stilted, weird interaction: mercury poisoning from eating an unnatural amount  of canned tuna fish. Mercury poisoning also explains the hallucinatory quality of the film, while at the same justifying the otherwise silly premise.

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I can’t take credit for that theory, but I can justify it. References to the tuna recur too many times throughout the film to be accidental. It clearly has some meaning for the director. What’s more, every time it resurfaces, there are more and more cans. At one point the trunk of the car in which he lives is almost full of empty tuna cans. He has a hard time eating it, by the way.

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The other element that makes the movie compelling is the real, serious heartbreak Neil must have gone through at some point in his life. In the film, his wife is killed, and the way she resurfaces intermittently as a vision or hallucination, and the way his character speaks to her and feels her loss makes me think it’s more than just fiction. It also makes the main character easy to empathize with.

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The movie is not without its flaws. I wouldn’t lie to you. If you really want something to make fun of, there’s something there for you. I think this picture of Neil’s character floating next to his dead wife in a pool sums it up nicely and, yes, that’s the back half of his scrotum you’re looking at.

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Once you’ve recovered, grab your copy of Double Down and head on over to our audio commentary tracks page so you can listen to us watch the movie. After that, go play outside. But maybe stay out of the pool until after the guy comes to clean it.

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2 thoughts on “Ep. 23: “Double Down” (2005)

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