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movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Envy

Starring: Jack Black, Ben Stiller
Director: Barry Levinson
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 99 Minutes
Release Date: April 2004
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Rachel Weisz, Amy Poehler, Christopher Walken, Cayden Boyd, Ariel Gade, LisaRaye, Connor Matheus, Tom McCleister, Ving Rhames, Frank Roman

Review by Susan Granger
1 star out of 4

Surprisingly, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has publicly apologized for this new lackluster comedy. Introducing clips from the upcoming animated "Shark Tale" at the Cannes Film Festival last week, Katzenberg declared, "I apologize profusely for 'Envy.'"

This bizarre fable about coveting your neighbor's wealth revolves around crazy inventor Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black), who comes up with a spray called "The Vapoorizer" that dissolves dog feces. He offers his friend, neighbor, carpool buddy and co-worker, Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller), an opportunity to invest in this miraculous discovery, but Tim refuses, only to be constantly derided for that fateful decision by his jealous wife (Rachel Weisz), who witnesses the pile of material possessions being accumulated across-the-street as Nick becomes a multi-millionaire. Then along comes a demonic drifter (Christopher Walken) who takes everyone for a ride.

Obviously attempting to poach on the Farrelly Brothers territory, director Barry Levinson pushes Steve Adams' feeble screenplay over the top, highlighted by Mark Mothersbaugh's strange satirical musical commentary, sung by Dan Navarro. Comic actors Jack Black ("School of Rock") and Ben Stiller ("Meet the Parents") deserve better or, at least, to be coached into giving parallel performances. Each seems to be acting in a different film. The most inventive touches appear in the tasteless, nouveau riche ostentation adorning the elaborate Vanderpark McMansion, like a dazzling carousel and an indoor bowling alley, adjoining the dining-room. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Envy" barely scores a desperately zany, faltering 3. You know how bad a comedy be when you come out whistling the scenery. Apology accepted.

Copyright 2004 Susan Granger

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