By Christopher Null
Self-obsessed pop star and Dancing with the Stars also-ran Willa Ford makes her debut star turn (not counting the title role in Anna Nicole, I mean... how could you?) in Impulse. What must be a tragic heartbreak to Ms. Ford, the movie went straight to DVD. One wonders, if she had known it would turn out so poorly, if she would have agreed to spend so much time in the film with her clothes off.
There's a glimmer of cleverness in the story: Claire (Ford) finds her marriage to her puffy, stuffy husband Jonathan (Angus MacFadyen) is starting to fade, so she's constantly experimenting with role-playing to try to get some fire back in the sack. One of her games is for them to pretend they don't know each other at all, which makes for a fun roll in the hay. Claire is surprised when Jonathan shows up to meet her on a business trip out of town, and he plays along in the hotel bar, pretending he doesn't know who she is when she makes a pass at him. After a roll in the hay, she's reinvigorated. She gets a strange text message and agrees to another fling. Only later does she realize the impossible: It's not her husband at all, but a dead ringer for him named Simon. (And of course they look alike: Macfadyen plays both characters.)
The film is doomed from the start by the obvious lack of chemistry between the 27-year-old Ford and the 45-year-old Macfadyen (in either role). The whole "the romance is dying" bit works better when both characters are a little more mature. Ford comes across like she's never even had a steady boyfriend before shooting this. Macfadyen hams for the camera on both sides of the fence. As Jonathan he plays the stereotypical cuckold who's more concerned about the burning dinner than his half-naked wife trying to seduce him. As Simon he embodies the goofy "who me?" character caught up in some intrigue... only to abruptly turn into a psycho who becomes obsessed with the sexpot Claire. Hard to blame him on that front, but the inevitable violent turn rings totally hollow.
Writer/director Charles T. Kanganis has a smattering of credits that range from 3 Ninjas Kick Back to Dennis the Menace Strikes Again! to six episodes of According to Jim. None of that indicates someone that would have a real knack with a tricky mistaken-identity thriller, and sure enough most of Impulse is filled with mere passing time as we wait for Simon to show up at the next unexpected location and for Claire to wrestle with how to break the news to Jonathan. Meanwhile, we're merely left waiting to see when the Fatal Attraction plot points will finally take over and what creative way Kanganis will come up with next to get Ford out of her top.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Tuesday 15th April 2008
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast & Crew
Director: Charles T. Kanganis
Screenwriter: Charles T. Kanganis