Duplex

Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore star in a Danny DeVito-directed comedy that rapidly runs out of room to grow

Director: Danny DeVito

Starring: Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel

Website: http://www.miramax.com/duplex

Plot Summary: Young Manhattanites Alex (Stiller) and Nancy (Barrymore) need more space to start a family and decide to move to Brooklyn.

They find an apparently ideal property - the duplex of the title - but there's a catch: They're forced to share the building with an old woman, Mrs. Connelly (Essel), whose passive-aggressive behavior eventually drives the couple to contemplate murder…

Review: There's nothing wrong with one-joke movies, especially if that joke's a funny one.

Duplex though stretches its gag too fast and too thin and it eventually reaches breaking point.

That's a shame because the opening promises far better, setting up a solid premise, delivering a lot of laughs and introducing a cast of talented comic actors.

No film with Ben Stiller is all bad and he plays the role of a put-upon writer with typically world-weary flair. Drew Barrymore plays Stiller's perky-to-the-point-of-irritating graphic-designer wife to perfection, and Essel is brilliant as the detestable Mrs. Connelly.

Despite the New York setting, there's also a lot about Duplex that Prague audiences could relate to.

Anyone who's lived in a panelák will be overly familiar with the space and noise issues that Duplex exploits, and though the Mrs. Connelly character may be a Hollywood-style Oirish-American she's a not-too-distant relative of a fair number of this city's babičkas.

The presence of Danny DeVito, one of the few mainstream Hollywood directors comfortable with black comedy, also bodes well.

Ultimately though, DeVito gets it wrong, attacking the script at a frantic pace when a more steady, subtle approach might've paid off.

PTV Rating: 2 out of 5

Czech Premiere: Thu 6th May, 2004
Czech Title: Baba na zabití ("Granny for the Chop")
Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes
Number of Prints in Czech Cinemas: 15

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