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Envy (2004)

Success didnt go to his head, it went to his neighbor.

Directed by:

Barry Levinson

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 99 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

The plot of ‘Envy’ revolves around the invention of an aerosol spray that makes crap disappear. It got me thinking – how much of that stuff would you need to eradicate an entire movie as bad as this one?

Ben Stiller and Jack Black, easily two of Hollywood’s biggest comic actors in 2004, are reduced to deeply unfunny shells of their usual selves in this all-out flop of a comedy. Playing like a failed pilot episode for a piss-poor sitcom, it’s about what happens when the green-eyed monster gets in the way of friendship.

Tim (Stiller) and Nick (Black) are neighbours, workmates and best buds who look destined to spend the rest of their days as jaded yes-men at the local sandpaper factory. But it’s all-change for Nick when his off-the-cuff idea for the afore-mentioned doggy doo destroyer – inventively titled “Vapoorize” – turns him into an overnight shit tycoon. Tim, meanwhile, is left to live to regret the biggest mistake of his life – turning down the opportunity to go halfers on his old chum’s idea.

I struggle to think of any other film so massively guilty of squandering such an impressive cast. Black is absent for much of the film, and when he does appear he’s a diluted version of his usual sharp, sparky self. Stiller tries to deliver the usual harassed shtick we’re all familiar with from There’s Something About Mary and ‘Meet the Parents’, but this time the scrapes he’s written into are neither original nor outrageous enough to deliver any laughs. Rachel Weisz and Christopher Walken are on-board too, but she’s reduced to practically faceless wife duty and he makes the latest in a long line of gargantuan career errors by appearing as a humourless, black-mailing tramp.

As an indication of how bad the film is, it was actually made two years ago but was filed far away at the back of someone’s shelf after bombing spectacularly at test screenings. It’s only thanks to the success of Black’s School of Rock that it’s avoided a deserved straight-to-video fate and now appears, somewhat embarrassingly, on the big screen. Thanks, but no thanks.

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It's Got: Stiller involved in the shooting of a horse for the second time this year (see also the vastly superior ‘Starsky & Hutch’).

It Needs: To have been kept on that shelf for a very, very long time.

Alternatives:

Stealing Harvard

Summary

Roll up for one of the biggest duds of the year. Messrs Stiller and Black should go into hiding after hearing this rank-awful comedy is finally getting a big screen release.

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