Duplex

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Ben Stiller as Alex Rose
Drew Barrymore as Nancy Kendricks
Eileen Essel as Mrs. Connelly
Harvey Fierstein as Kenneth
Justin Theroux as Coop
James Remar as Chick
Robert Wisdom as Officer Dan
Swoosie Kurtz as Jean
Wallace Shawn as Herman
Maya Rudolph as Tara
Amber Valletta as Celine
Cheryl Klein as Ginger
Tim Maculan as Terrence

Special Features:
Behind-the-scenes featurette

Deleted scenes

Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic formats

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Fullscreen (1.33:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 89 Minutes

Synopsis:
Alex and Nancy buy a duplex in Brooklyn as a place to start a new family. They love the large building, but there’s a catch. In the upper half of the place lives an obnoxious, elderly tenant named Mrs. Connelly. She constantly asks Alex for favors, plays her television exceedingly loud at night, and generally says incredibly rude things. However, Mrs. Connelly moves from being a mild annoyance to being a major problem when she ends up costing Alex his job as a writer and Nancy her job as a magazine editor. The young couple is driven to the point of wanting Mrs. Connelly dead, but are they really willing to go through with it?

Duplex is rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and some violence.

The Movie:
I missed Duplex when it first hit theaters, but I heard that was a good thing. From what I understood, Duplex really sucked. When it eventually arrived at my house on DVD, I wasn’t expecting much. While it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be, it still wasn’t great.

This black comedy is directed by Danny DeVito. I don’t know what he has against little old ladies, but they seem to get the short end of the stick in his movies. I’m not too keen on dark comedies, so seeing an hour and a half of Stiller and Barrymore being tortured, then trying to kill an old lady wasn’t that appealing to me. DeVito also resorts to cheap laughs like Barrymore being shocked by an electric current and gross out gags like her graphically barfing in Stiller’s face. There were a few shining moments to offset the lowbrow humor, but they were few and far between. I could appreciate some of the jokes about the elderly tenant. My grandmother used to play the TV incredibly loud at night because she couldn’t hear it well, then would fall asleep with it cranked up to 11. I could appreciate the exasperation of Stiller and Barrymore. I also had to laugh at the endless requests for help with chores and the imaginary fixes needed in a house because I experienced that myself. However, as much as I laughed at this, it was not enough to offset the rest of the movie.

Ben Stiller is pretty much the same character he plays in every movie. Not much new here for him. Drew Barrymore is cute, but she doesn’t add a whole lot to the role. Eileen Essel is pretty good as Mrs. Connelly. She’s able to transition from sweet old lady to minion of the devil with apparent ease.

In the end, this isn’t a great movie and all of the actors have done better work elsewhere.

The Extras:
There are only two extras on this DVD:

Behind-the-scenes featurette – This is a 5 minute behind the scenes video showing the filming of a few key scenes. You see DeVito directing, Stiller and Barrymore looking cute for the camera, and a few shots of the camera crew setting up shots. It’s mildly interesting, but there’s not a lot here.

Deleted scenes – There are three deleted scenes included. One shows Mrs. Connelly monotonously counting out her rent money to Stiller, a joke seen elsewhere in the film. Another scene shows an alternate ending where Stiller’s friend ends up turning their story into a novel. I can’t even remember what the third one was (if that tells you anything). None of them enhanced the story at all and they are better left on the cutting room floor.

The Bottom Line:
Overall, I’d have to say there’s not much here worth checking out. You might want to rent it if you’re a fan of Stiller or Barrymore, but otherwise I’d say Duplex is mediocre at best.

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