Reviewer's Rating 2 out of 5  
Duets (2000)

Karaoke went from amusing novelty to tacky gimmick faster than it takes Steven Seagal's films to go straight to video. A pity no one told director Bruce Paltrow, whose road movie "Duets" follows six very different strangers who, hooked to the buzz of singing along to pre-recorded backing tracks, converge on Omaha for a national karaoke competition.

The chief interest here lies in the director's daughter Gwyneth, who, in the role of a Las Vegas showgirl reunited with her long-lost father (Huey Lewis), gets to warble on screen for the first time.

The good news is that Gwyneth can actually sing. (At one stage she croons a sizzling rendition of the Kim Carnes hit "Bette Davis Eyes".) The bad news is that Huey can't act.

Indeed, "Duets" is very much a case of unequal partnerships. In another of the plot strands, the hyperactive Paul Giamatti, playing a travelling salesman who's been on one selling drive too many, wipes the floor with "Homicide" star Andre Braugher, cast against type as an ex-con hitching a ride home.

And in sub-plot three, it's Maria Bello's starstruck waitress who towers over the rather dopey cab driver (Scott Speedman) she inveigles into driving her to Nebraska.

Jumping impatiently from one story to another means that we have little time to warm to the characters or involve ourselves in their individual dilemmas.

The result is a picture which piques our interest at first before becoming something of a bore - rather like karaoke itself, in fact.

End Credits

Director: Bruce Paltrow

Writer: John Byrum

Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Maria Bello, Scott Speedman, Andre Braugher, Paul Giamatti, Huey Lewis

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Length: 111 minutes

Cinema: 17 November 2000

Country: USA

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