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Film / Duets

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A middle-class salesman who's grown disgusted with the culture of corporate America.

An ex-convict who has nothing but his gun and his voice.

A cab driver that once believed in the inherent good of the world, until he found his girlfriend cheating with his business partner.

An amateur singer trying to make it to California who is willing to do anything... anything... to get there.

A conman who lives only for himself and the road, suddenly reunited with his estranged daughter.

An innocent young woman who would give the world to win the love of the father that abandoned her as a child.

Duets is the tale of six people who, despite their disparate backgrounds, share one things in common: a crushing despair about the course their lives have taken. Though they are scattered all across the United States, the threads of their lives begin to intertwine as they progress through a nationwide karaoke tournament. Inexorably they are all drawn to a single point... the national championship in Omaha where they will compete for the grand prize of five thousand dollars and, each in their own way, search for the meaning that has eluded them for so long.

Duets is a Road Trip Plot directed by Bruce Paltrow. It stars Paul Giamatti, Andre Braugher, Scott Speedman, Maria Bello, Huey Lewis, and Gwyneth Paltrow (the director's daughter, in their only screen collaboration). The film saw a theatrical release in September of 2000, and was distributed by Hollywood Pictures.

Duets contains examples of:

  • Borrowed Catchphrase: From ex-salesman Todd Woods to his new-found driving buddy and ex-convict Reggie Kane after Todd's attempted robbery of a gas station ended with the attendant shot and killed by Reggie.
    Reggie: "What were you thinking?"
    Todd: "I guess I made an error in judgment."
  • Catchphrase: Several of the characters have a recurring catch phrase in the film.
    • Todd Woods: "I'm going out for a pack of cigarettes."
    • Reggie Kane: "I made an error in judgment."
  • Duet Bonding: The film features a duet between salesman Todd Woods (Paul Giamatti) and ex-con Reggie Kane (Andre Braugher), as well as one from Ricky Dean (Huey Lewis) and his daughter Liv (Gwyneth Paltrow).
  • Ensemble Cast
  • Grass Is Greener: Frustration with his dull life as a traveling salesman and a family that didn't seem to appreciate him (along with a healthy dose of beta-blockers) led Todd to drop everything and pursue a cross-country karaoke competition.
  • Hustler: Ricky Dean makes a living by traveling across the country and visiting karaoke bars, where he finds the singer with the biggest ego and insults their hobby and their singing voice until they demand that he take the stage himself, usually betting him money that he can't do any better. Since the character is played by Huey Lewis, it goes without saying that they're usually dead wrong.
  • Parent Never Came Back from the Store: Todd left his family, and describes his status as "out buying a pack of cigarettes".
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: This happens to Todd while nervously protesting about his ability to sing on stage to a karaoke singer that was egging him on. The kiss (along with the beta-blockers she gave him a minute before), gave him the courage to try it for the first time.
  • Traveling Salesman: Todd Woods, played by Paul Giamatti.
  • Virginity Makes You Stupid: Liv Dean. While it is never explicitly stated in-story that she's a virgin, her innocent nature gives her an almost child-like demeanor, which leads her to be quite gullible.