Envy

"Terrible"

Envy Review


Even if you have not yet tired of the eye-bugging, eyebrow-dancing, class-clown schtick of Jack Black or the eye-bugging, eyebrow-dancing, fretful straight-man schtick of Ben Stiller, the first collaboration between these two one-trick ponies is still unlikely to draw a single laugh for its slapdash story of one-dimensional "Envy" run amok.

The pair star as K-Mart-class stiffs in the sandpaper trade who are best pals and neighbors in an under-the-power-lines cul-de-sac of the San Fernando 'burbs. A fusspot pragmatic by temperament, Stiller slowly turns bitter green when Black -- a wild-eyed daydreamer full of half-baked inventions and get-rich-quick schemes -- gets rich quick by helping conceive an aerosol spray that makes pet poop evaporate.

Soon Stiller and family (Rachel Weisz is wasted in a do-nothing role as his wife) are living across the street from the gaudy uber-mansion that replaced Black's tract home, complete with a carousel on the grounds and Corinthian-styled stables for a white horse that's always getting loose and nibbling on their apple tree. When jealous Stiller accidentally kills the horse in a midnight fit of drunken archery (Black's yard also boasts a bow-and-arrow target range), he tries to hide the body with the help of a weird hobo (Christopher Walken), and hilarity is supposed to ensue.

But normally reliable director Barry Levinson ("Bandits," "Wag the Dog," "Rain Man") seems to be asleep at the wheel. Subplots flail around like an unminded garden hose turned on full blast -- one involving Black's dingbat wife ("Saturday Night Live's" Amy Poehler) running for "congress, or state senate, or whatever." Some scenes -- entire acts, really -- end so abruptly that parts of the picture play as if a reel went missing. And the actors have clearly been left to their own meager devices, the result of which is a cobbled-together mess of scenery-chewing high jinks and under-rehearsed improvisation.

Throughout it all the air is thick with denial about the punchlines that do come from the screenplay (penned by professional script doctor Steve Adams) -- contrived clunkers like the chant of protesters at Poehler's plot-padding campaign rallies, who for no explored reason demand an explanation of her husband's product: "Where does the (poop) go? We want to know!"

As the end of "Envy" nears, secrets are revealed and conflicts resolved in expository episodes of ridiculous ease (e.g. Walken, who had been blackmailing Stiller over the dead horse, just changes his mind and leaves), and the movie coasts to the closing credits as Stiller and Black run out of ad-libbing steam.

Where are those funnier-than-the-feature out-takes -- which often accompany such lifeless comedies -- when you really need them?



Envy

Facts and Figures

Run time: 99 mins

In Theaters: Friday 30th April 2004

Box Office USA: $12.2M

Distributed by: DreamWorks SKG

Production compaines: Castle Rock Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 1 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 7%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 108

IMDB: 4.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Tim Dingman, as Nick Vanderpark, as Debbie Dingman, as J-Man, as Natalie Vanderpark

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.