Duplex (2003)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Really slow start.

While going through the list of available films on Netflix Instant Stream, you’re bound to run into those certain films that make you go “oh yeah, I remember that”, but is that really a good thing or is there more to the reason you barely remember it? Your mind can be a funny thing, but the one thing it never does, not really, is lie to you. If you can’t remember a movie, then heed my warning, you can’t remember it because the film isn’t really important. At least not for you. Duplex is one of those films for me. I remember watching it, and I remember laughing, but beyond that, the film is more or less a mystery in my eyes…why? Because I wasn’t overly impressed.

Duplex is a comedy starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore as a couple looking forward to a stable future together. Ben’s character, Alex is an accomplished author, and the duplex he just bought would be a great place for him to have some peace and quiet while he wrote his next novel. There’s just one problem, their upstairs neighbor and tenant, Mrs. Connelly is an elderly woman that could be defined as the most annoying woman on the face of the planet. Before long, Alex and his girlfriend Nancy turn homicidal to fix their little problem.

This film borrows a lot from the ‘80s and ‘90s era of comedies. You know the kind, where our heroes are normal people living normal lives, but are more or less forced to alter their personalities through a course of events…usually unrelenting destruction of some form or another. That’s pretty broad, but trust me when I say that plenty of films match this description, so forgive me if I call this film a tad predictable. That doesn’t automatically make the movie bad, necessarily, but it does make it a bit overdone and uncreative. These types of comedies were really fresh in their days, but I’m sorry but they’ve overstayed their welcome. They say “they don’t make em like they used to”, that’s simply because if they did…it would feel tacky for one, and be too predictable. There’s a reason why films change with the times.

The film picks up probably 60-75% into the movie. This is when the couple really starts to lose their mind and believe murder is an acceptable way to be happy. Now, I understand that the movie was a slow progression from sanity to insanity, but in my humble opinion, that transition is too long. It needed to just get to that point sooner, and because it didn’t, it felt rushed in the end. What you wanted to see the most just didn’t happen when it should have, and because of that…I could see a lot of people disappointed. The film is most successful and most hilarious in its last act, why couldn’t they just make that the whole thing?

I’m actually a big fan of both Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore, and I think they actually have decent chemistry. Not the best in the world, no, but they look and feel comfortable around each other, so that’s a plus. What I don’t understand is why they specifically were chosen for this film. I can usually understand the positives for casting choices, but I don’t see their roles limited to these actors. There are others that could fit the role just as well and maybe even better. I said I was a fan, I didn’t say I blindly praised their work.

The Good:

The last third of the film is actually pretty funny and very well done.

The Bad:

The first two thirds, while understandable, just take too long to get to the point. It’s more or less a lot of the same thing and it gets old. It forces the audience to tap their fingers in boredom.

Memorable Quote:

Nancy Kendricks: Do you realize how much the duplex is going to be worth once we get both floors?

Alex Rose: I know how much it costs.

Nancy Kendricks: Well it’s going to be worth a bazillion times that.

Alex Rose: Really? A bazillion? That’s an incredible return.



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