[rating=1]Starring: Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel
Director(s): Danny DeVito
Writer(s): Larry Doyle
Anyone who has ever seen a film that Danny DeVito has directed, produced, written or starred in knows that DeVito has a certain brand of humor. It’s a bit off-putting, a bit different and sometimes completely off the mark. His critically panned Death to Smoochy was all these things with the exception that it was exceptionally entertaining. Duplex is all these things and nothing else.
Duplex is a horrible film starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore as Alex and Emma, a married couple lacking any chemistry that buys into a Brooklyn duplex furnished with a rent-controlled tenant. The tenant, Mrs. Connelly, is a sweet old lady who lives in the second floor apartment.
However, the “sweet” old lady is actually a double-dealing fiend who promises to make their lives a living hell.
Alex is a writer working at home on a book with a strict deadline. Mrs. Connelly drives him crazy by making him run all sorts of useless errands that never seem to end. He is at the mercy of Mrs. Connelly’s whims despite his better judgment.
It’s hard to sympathize with Alex. Ben Stiller’s neurotic portrayal is downright irksome. Though his temper is cooler, his portrayal brings back memories of the crazy, two-faced date he once played on Friends.
Drew Barrymore is sickly sweet as Emma, who has no sympathy for Alex either until she’s at Mrs. Connelly’s mercy herself. Barrymore offers but a wisp of the usual energy with which she invigorates her characters. Her character’s greatest joy seems to be expensive decorative art. In the end, Emma, who is quite ingratiating and vapid, comes off nothing more than a decorative piece for Alex’s character.
Duplex is strikingly painful to watch. The complete chaos that ensues is anything but amusing. Alex and Emma’s attempts to kill off Mrs. Connelly should be highdark comedy, but instead only make the film seem more twisted, depraved and oh, yea, BORING! By the time the twist at the end comes along, you’ve already lost interest.
Avoid Duplex at all costs!
The DVD features deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes look at the film. It also offers you the luxury of enjoying the truly terrible film in a full-screen or wide-screen format. Woopty-frickin’ doo!
Run Time: 1 hr., 29 mins.