There's an old adage in screenwriting: You can make something up, and it doesn't have to be real. It just has to be believable. In other words, you can make up the lines for a priest to read at a wedding, as long as they sound plausible. No one's going to know if you miss a few "Amens." However, this liberty does not extend to making up laws on which to base the premise of your film.
Double Jeopardy has the bizarre distinction of probably being the first movie to completely rest its fortunes on the fact that you'll buy make-believe legislation. And if you believe the filmmakers, you simply can't be tried for the same crime twice. So if your husband (Greenwood) fakes his death and frames you (Judd) for it, and then you get convicted, and then six years later you stalk him down to kill him, then you can't be found guilty of murder, because you were already tried (and convicted) for that.
Right? Wrong. Very wrong. Wrong to the point that it's scary to think that maybe the filmmakers maybe didn't realize it at any point during the production.
The plot of Double Jeopardy is very plain and obvious (Tommy Lee Jones chases vengeance-obsessed Judd for an hour while she tracks down hubby, just like in The Fugitive). And while the thriller is pedestrian and straightforward and otherwise dull, the theater erupts in laughter every time that "double jeopardy" clause is trotted out. You keep expecting for someone on screen to explain to Judd how the law works, but they never do, and Jones's character is an ex-law professor!
Not that I should feel surprised. Bruce Beresford hasn't made a good movie since 1989 (Driving Miss Daisy). While Jones is campy and fun to watch, and I could be entertained watching Ashley Judd make toast for two hours, the film does not redeem itself with these minimal, guilty pleasures (see also: Entrapment). This isn't Double Jeopardy. It's a $100 warm-up question.
Question: What film are you going to look back at with remorse, Ashley (you know, besides Kuffs)?
Run time: 105 mins
In Theaters: Friday 24th September 1999
Box Office Worldwide: $177.8M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Fresh: 21 Rotten: 63
IMDB: 6.3 / 10
Director: Bruce Beresford
Producer: Leonard Goldberg
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones as Travis Lehman, Ashley Judd as Elizabeth "Libby" Parsons, Bruce Greenwood as Nicholas "Nick" Parsons / Jonathan Devereaux, Annabeth Gish as Angela "Angie" Green, Benjamin Weir as Matty - Age 4, Jay Brazeau as Bobby, John Maclaren as Rudy
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