In Danny DeVito’s Duplex, Alex (Ben Stiller) and his wife Nancy (Drew Barrymore) move into a suspiciously cost-effective apartment in Brooklyn expecting an idyllic existence only to discover that their upstairs tenant, Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essel), is really the neighbor from hell. The seemingly cute and innocent old bitty annoys Alex with her fuzzy math (in one of the film’s funnier bits, she’s seen counting everything from pennies to blueberries) and keeps the couple up all night with her television. After countless domestic disturbances, the couple decides to take matters into their own hands. The absurdities are few and far between (the film’s major running gag implies that Mrs. Connelly actually runs across her living room in order to turn on the television) and the film’s one-joke premise quickly wears thin, no thanks in part to DeVito’s lousy direction. Essentially a 90-minute pilot episode for a rejected TV sitcom, Duplex is watchable only for Essel’s ridiculous performance as the film’s geriatric monster. (The actress’s only other screen credit is Ali G in da House.) DeVito’s retro concoctions have a certain cornball allure, but one gets the impression that the actor/director is perpetually trapped in the past: if his Death to Smoochy poked fun at Barney Mania a good five years too late, Duplex could just as easily have been called Throw Momma from the Money Pit. Been there, done that.
- Miramax Films
- 89 min
- Danny DeVito
- Larry Doyle, John Hamburg
- Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel, Justin Theroux, Harvey Fierstein, Amber Valletta, Swoosie Kurtz, Wallace Shawn, Maya Rudolph
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