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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I rarely feel the urge to comment a movie, but this one really got me
ANGRY. Maybe that was the point, but I do not enjoy being angry. I
prefer leaving a comedy happy. Do yourself a favor and skip this one.
Watch the news, or some commercials instead. Trust me it's better!
I like Ben Stiller and really love Drew Barrymore, which was why I watched this movie at all. It starts off with a sweet background story and a very sweet couple you root for as the bad luck begins.
HERE BE SPOILERS!!!
Being a comedy, I was hoping into the very end that it would have a happy ending. Instead I was more and more frustrated, irritated, agonized and angry!!!¤%¤ I really hate movies which base their humour on the misery of others. Even more so if the misery is partially due to stupidity. What annoyed me was first of all how the couple tolerated the mistreatment. And why on earth didn't they respond with the same medicine: annoy the lady even more! Make her miserable. Beat her at her own game! And the story was weak and transparent: it was apparent early on that the lady was doing this intentionally, and that the house salesman was in on it. Or enter hit-man, for when they would be desperate enough to think that was a good idea.
The only surprise was their lame idea to wreck the house so she might leave. For a second I thought they were finally going to make HER life miserable, only to find out they were trying to electrocute or gas her to death. (Ever heard of life sentence for murder?) In the end they wrecked their house, were humiliated and tortured (sleep deprivation is an effective kind of torture), lost their jobs, sold everything they loved, payed repairs and new TV for the lady, sold the house at a huge huge (sic) loss, and on top of that left seeing the lady dead just when they've signed over the house. - The last 'happy' scene is just a joke in my face.
/ END SPOILERS !!!
I have no idea if anyone cares enough to read my entire review. But if you are a fan of Drew Barrymore or Ben Stiller, do yourself a favour and DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE. It is a complete waste of your time, and will only leave you disappointed.
Now if you are a fourteen year old who enjoys killing ants, and who laugh when your friend falls and breaks a leg, then this is your cup of tea.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILERS THROUGHOUT: I really wasn't expecting Duplex to be Oscar
material but I thought I'd like it more then I did. I am a major fan of
Drew Barrymore and the combination of her and Stiller had promise. I
hadn't heard great things about Duplex but like to decide for myself.
Unfortunately, I didn't like this. This movie I guess, was OK to start
but took a turn for the worse and didn't let up. By the end I was sort
of out of it. And not in a good way.
There were a number of things that bothered me about this. Number one is the mean spiritedness. Number two is the means spiritedness. And number three is the mean spiritedness. Oh yeah, maybe a few other things...
The way Duplex develops it gets to the point where one is numb watching it and just wants it to end. As Drew and Ben step up their efforts to drive the old lady out of the duplex, things go more and more wrong for them, and it's not like the audience doesn't see this coming. Every twist and turn that happens can be totally predicted. The movie gets to the point where it seems like it's one major focus is: Stiller/Barrymore try to drive old lady away, it backfires. Unfortunately, after seeing this happen about 20 times, it DOES make one a bit weary. The happenings become more and more ridiculous and when Stiller loses his book, it's at the point where it's just painful. There's nothing funny about this, and I'm not sure what the movie's point was. There is a time when something crosses the line from being funny to annoying. And watching it, I really did wonder why certain things were even put in there as they were not on the par with what the talented people involved in this, have brought to us with other films.
Duplex gets a three from me because there were a few genuinely laugh out loud funny lines. But that is only in the beginning, things turn around very quickly. I guess to sum up I'd describe this not just with the standard "disapointing" but also "puzzling." I just don't get it, either I'm quite wrong about what is actually funny, or this movie just didn't get it. I do tend to think the latter. My vote's 3 of 10.
It's always nice to find a simple, pleasant comedy amidst the horde of
mainstream moneymakers released every year. It's not that I have a distaste
for epics or over-produced movies, but after viewing overwhelming films,
it's always fun to view a simple one shortly afterwards. And if that's what
you're looking for -- a simple, sweet comedy -- then "Duplex" certainly fits
It's not evil but it isn't exactly sweet. Its premise sounds like the former -- it's about two landlords who try to kill their upstairs tenant, who is unable to be forced from the apartment due to contractual obligations. For Alex and Nancy (Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore), this is at first no problem whatsoever. They purchase a nice New York duplex and have no hesitations about loaning out the floor upstairs. Quoting the title of a film starring DeVito (the director), "What's the worst that could happen?"
Well, a lot.
At first, as is always the case, everything seems nice and dandy. They move in, buy some furniture, set up their new lives, and manage to relax a bit. But soon the "sweet old lady" their real estate agent told them about turns out to be the spawn of Satan. She is an Irish woman who is "somewhere between ninety-five and a hundred-and-five," lives by herself upstairs, plays her television very loud all night long, boasts about her passed husband and how great a sea fisherman he was in his day, calls Alex Alan and refuses to admit she's made a mistake, etc., etc. She calls Alex upstairs every day and has him run extravagant errands for her. Alex is a struggling writer with a deadline before his second book is due, so he tries to tell the sweet old woman that he can't help her out all the time. "But there's just this one thing," she says, and fits on an angelic smile in order to make him feel sorry for her.
But soon she's claiming that her landlords are trying to rape and murder her and the cops side with the woman. Left with nowhere to go, Alex and Nancy eventually succumb to their anger and decide they must put the hag out of her misery and take over the upstairs floor. Their excuse is that a baby is on the way, and they'll need the room, but by this time we sympathize with both of them and want to see this woman murdered anyway. Trust me, after you watch this movie, you'll be feeling the same way, too.
And I suppose that's part of the success of "Duplex" -- like other DeVito movies, it takes a seemingly appalling plot (see "Throw Momma From the Train") and, by advancing and developing its characters, and drawing us into their conflicts, has us relate to them. We want the hag dead, too.
Danny DeVito's directorial debut, "Throw Momma from the Train," (1987) was a simple dark comedy that borrowed its premise from Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train." Since then, DeVito has delivered a fair share of hits ("The War of the Roses") and misses ("Death to Smoochy"). One thing's for sure, though: all of his films have a distinct style of humor, and exploitation of the weakness of humanity, that separates them from the rest of the genre.
DeVito is able to make the audience relate with his characters and have them fantasize about doing similar things. "I'm so evil," Barrymore complains halfway through the movie. "Well, I have my fantasies, too," Stiller tells her, which is then followed by images of him killing the old woman upstairs and smiling about it. He tells her his ideas. She grins. "You're evil, too!"
From a text standpoint, this indeed seems very evil, and appears as if it would be in a Stone ("Natural Born Killers") or Tarantino-written ("True Romance") movie. But when you're watching "Duplex," it all comes across as a joke, and it doesn't seem very cruel at all, and DeVito's ability to transform his audience into fantasizing sickos is sort of mildly genius if you stop and think about it. I'd never kill an old woman but "Duplex" is able to make us sympathize with its characters and agree with their decision. Now that's the sign of a good director if you ask me.
- John Ulmer
In Danny De Vito's "Duplex," Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore play a
young couple who buy a "dream apartment" in Brooklyn whose amenities
include everything two upwardly mobile yuppies could possibly want:
ample space, solid wood floors, three glorious fireplaces, and, above
all, a quiet environment where Alex, a budding novelist, can spend his
days writing in uninterrupted peace and quiet. Or so they think
unfortunately, the place also comes replete with what turns out to be
the tenant from hell, a doddering old woman who lives on the second
floor and who makes life miserable for the two of them with her
continually blaring television and her constant intrusions into their
daily lives. Finally driven to the breaking point, Alex and Nancy
decide to take matters into their own hands in order to rid themselves
of this human pest in any way they can.
"Duplex" is, essentially, a one-joke comedy and, as such, it does suffer from the occupational hazard common to all one-joke comedies of built-in repetitiousness. However, the writing has a surprisingly dark edge to it that lifts the film above the run-of-the-Hollywood-comedy-mill. I must confess to having a certain weakness for dotty old lady comedies, counting among my favorite films the original British classic "The Lady killers" from 1955. Eileen Essel is so delightful as the bete noire of the piece that it's hard not to fall under the spell of both her character and the film itself. De Vito, in a return to the black comedy form that served him so well in "The War of the Roses," keeps the comedy tough and brutal, even if it means bludgeoning the audience over the head a bit in the process. Stiller does his usual shtick as the put-upon Everyman, while Barrymore is able to use her customary cutesiness to full advantage as the sweet little ingénue driven to murder to save her own sanity.
"Duplex" is certainly not everyone's cup of tea, and I imagine that it would not win the stamp of approval from the AARP. Still, if you're in the market for something different in a mainstream comedy, "Duplex" just might fit the bill.
The writer Alex Rose (Ben Stiller) and his beloved wife Nancy Kendricks
(Drew Barrymore), who works in an advertisement agency, want to buy a
house and cannot afford an apartment in Manhattan, but they find a
wonderful old duplex in Brooklyn for living. The house, which has three
fireplaces, is a dream, the price is very reasonable and the only
inconvenient is the existence of the old tenant Mrs. Connelly (Eileen
Essel) on the second floor. Although aware that they can not move the
old lady from her apartment, the young couple decides to buy the
duplex. When they move to their new home, their lives become a hell,
due to the nasty Mrs. Connelly. "Duplex" is a very funny black comedy,
directed by Danny DeVito, who is a specialist in this genre. Ben
Stiller and Drew Barrymore show a great chemistry, but Eileen Essel
"steals the show" in the role of a sweet & nasty old lady. There are
two plot points in the end of the story that I liked a lot. "Duplex" is
not a masterpiece, but make the viewer, who likes black humor, laughs a
lot and is a good entertainment. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Duplex"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
DUPLEX is truly one of the worst movies I've seen in years. Not even
considering the talent involved, the movie is poorly written, directed,
edited, photographed, paced and performed. If it was a small
independent made by and starring unknowns, it would still suck.
As the young couple struggling to find a place to live, Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore, two actors I usually like, have absolutely no chemistry at all. They seem to just recite their lines back and forth, and never seem to actually be speaking to one another. Stiller does his usual barely-controlling-himself shtick, and Barrymore plays her "cute, adorable" character so badly, she is shockingly unlikable.
Danny DeVito shows zero of the style and energy he brought to THE WAR OF THE ROSES and THROW MAMA FROM THE TRAIN. It seems like he directed this movie over the phone, with an assistant director who barely spoke English as his liaison to the cast and crew. Scenes are so badly edited together, there seem to be chunks of the movie missing, although there doesn't seem to be any plot points left open. It's just a case of bad writing and directing coming together to create a train wreck of a movie.
Apparently the filmmakers were trying to craft a tasteless black comedy along the lines of WHERE'S POPPA or NEIGHBORS, but they don't have the guts nor the wit to pull it off. Instead, it resorts to the usual fart and puke jokes, and pulls the rug out from the audience just when it seems the movie is finally going to get as depraved as it seems to be promising. The ending of the movie is almost aggressively insulting to the audience's intelligence, adding insult to injury.
I wasn't expecting much from DUPLEX, and didn't even get that. It is one of those rare movies that is completely devoid of redeeming value. There isn't a single moment in the movie that was anything close to entertaining, surprising or even interesting. The only thing tasteless and offensive about it is that it exists.
Two talented actors - working with a pitiful script. Some nice shots of
renovated Brooklyn brownstones (or is that the back lot in Hollywood?)
Actually, I had a similar upstairs neighbor when I lived in a Brooklyn
brownstone years ago. This lady must be related. She evoked absolutely NO
sympathy - and made the entire attempt slightly creepy.
The couple had *zero* chemistry and I'm surprised I watched it to the bitter end. Must have been a slow TV night. The comic turn at the end was somewhat redeeming and provided a wry twist to an otherwise forgettable movie. I am glad I have found one nice thing to say about it. I am one of the few people in my circle who thinks Drew Barrymore has talent. I hate to see her in this drek.
i think that this is an entertaining and very funny comedy from Danny
DeVito, Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore are well cast, but the real star
of the film is Eileen Essel as the old lady.
Stiller and Barrymore are a married couple who buy a duplex in Brooklyn, they then find out that there is an old tenant who lives upstairs, she then starts to cause havoc on their personal lives by playing the TV all night and getting Stiller to do her chores all day, instead of letting him write his new book. Then it gets too much for them and they decide it is time to kill her.
There are some very funny slapstick comedy moments in this film, especially the scene where Stiller and Barrymore are giving the old lady C.P.R,
There is also a nice twist at the end of the film.
Danny De Vito decides to narrate the beginning and end of the story, Overall a nice little comedy with some very good comic performances by the main cast, some very funny jokes and a good script, 8/10
Who else but Danny DeVito could take a sweet little old lady and make a seriously funny sweet little old lady from hell movie that reminded me very much of Home Alone? Hmmm? Drew Barrymore, as sweet as ever, is sugar and spice and ready for some down to earth homicide, while the very demented Ben Stiller, like the twisted offspring of Chevy Chase and Jerry Seinfeld, slam dunks himself just short of his own demise. Hey, folks, Duplex is a seriously funny and entertaining piece of insanity from one of my favorite insane people, Danny DeVito. If you must have 'cinema' to be satisfied or you have no room in your heart for silliness, then you might want to skip this. Otherwise, drop in the DVD and buckle up. Duplex is ready for take off.
From the twisted mind of Danny DeVito comes this story in the style of "War
of the Roses". Here, a nice NY couple finally find their dream home only to
discover that they have a built in tenant. Not exactly what they were
looking for but it really can't be that bad can it? The little old lady that
lives upstairs turns out to be a nightmare and a half. In a variety of
scenarios, most comical and some just plain, outright strange, the nice
couple turn into psycho landlords and the nice old lady turns into the crazy
bat upstairs. In the end, the twist comes as a true surprise. A hilarious,
laugh out loud movie, this was really enjoyable and a must watch. DeVito has
done it again and I can't wait to see what's coming next!!!
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