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Envy

Starring: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz, Amy Poehler and Christopher Walken
Directed by: Barry Levinson

 

Bluntly speaking? Envy creeps up in you…Yeah, envy for the people in the next theater watching another film! No. Envy is not that bad - close - but it's no rotten kielbasa sausage left on the third shelf for a couple of months -Tom Greenified reeking poopfest. Still it is not the finest work Ben Stiller or Jack Black have done. The draw to the film is the outstanding performance by Christopher Walken - he is positively hilarious and worth the credit card debt to take the whole family to the film.

Story goes…Tim (Ben Stiller) and Nick (Jack Black) are bestest friends. Heck they even live next door to each other and their kids are best friends. Nick's a wild-eyed dreaming sort; constantly scheming up new inventions and unusable products. While Tim's more of a glazed-eyed worker bee sort ; content with his generic suburban life.

When Nick dreams up a product that can va-poo-rize dog poop, the Negative Nelly within Tim figures it's just another fantastical Nick brain tick and declines a 50/50 inclusion in the fledgling product's development.

Ka-poo! Nick's product (via clever info-mercials) skyrockets to wealth.Tim, on the other hand, is still a schlub. And on top of being a upper eschelon schlub, now has the pleasure of watching his best friend and family get it all - even the regulatory rich man with no class humongoid mansion, designed in early doggie style rococo (thanks to "fine art" by graphics designer Martin Charles). Nick's mansion of interior design horrors, comes complete with a bunch of Kane-ish size rooms riddled with flamboyant 30 foot marble Grecian statues of himself - and more dogs - the obligatory min-bowling alley and a 1600 square foot bed in the master bedroom draped in crushed velvet. He invented VapPooRize™ remember .

Eventually, even as gaudy as Nick's tangible items are, the "envy" erupts within Tim and things come to a crispy green-colored head.

Tim spirals; he gets fired, his family leaves him, and he slinks into a local bar to drown his personality. Here he meets the J-Man (Christopher Walken). The J-Man is not really a nice guy - heck he's not even sane. But Tim needs a friend right now - preferably a poor down and out one - and the J-Man supplies the void. He also supplies the best parts of the film…

Can Nick and Tim's friendship survive wealth? Will Jack Black, err, Nick bust a blood vessel jumping around like a rabid Loris monkey?

Whatdya think?

I'm a big Stiller fan it's no secret (my laminated lifelong member to the Intl. Stillerians Society is firmly within my wallet), but the film lacks oomph and that "thing" found in buddy-gone-awry flicks that you find in the likes of say a Dumb and Dumber, a film that also went off the map of reality, yet we cared for the silly palookas and their friendship woes.

Jack Black's a funny guy. But whisping his hair into a Heat Meiser point and dressing him in leopard print Heffner-y robes doesn't not a performance make. The filmmakers just kind of exorcize his patented demons here as Stiller saddy-cakes about looking very ghost-of-Christmas-future Jerry Stillerish physique-wise. They also feel the need to drag a dead animal around for the sake of a (drawn-out) giggle - that caca never goes over well with me as a reviewer or human...the film just doesn't work…Walken does. It may just be his funniest (purposely) role to date.

Snack recommendation: Pocket Flan and Vandermark Wine


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