Duplex DVD: Review By justincase

  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore play Alex and Nancy, a young New York couple buying their first home. From the myriad metropolitan options, they select a duplex with a sweet 100+ year-old tenant upstairs. Before long, her quirky behavior is ruining their lives, costing Alex his book deal (after the sweet little old gal demolishes his only copy of his recently completed tome) and Nancy her job (after she mistakenly publishes the wrong photos in her column while troubleshooting the old gal's housing problems on the phone at deadline). Alex and Nancy decide that their only path to freedom and happiness is to eliminate their rent-controlled geriatric nightmare. Several hilarious attempts to terminate their tenant meet with only frustration as the couple fight for their lives and their sanity.

Stiller and Barrymore work pretty well together. Both have a certain comedic presence that play well with the other. These two seem perfectly matched to play a married couple desperate for a nice place to start their family. DeVito's direction (as well as his beginning and ending narration) help the film along at a good pace that will keep you easily entertained for the full running time.

While this isn't a "comedic masterpiece", by any stretch, it will provide hearty laughs and an hour and a half of enjoyment. Don't take it too seriously. This screwball comedy isn't trying to be too sophisticated. Simple physical and situational humor is woven with a dark thread and Stiller's quirky, almost uncomfortable, presence all wrapped in a decent turn by Barrymore and a quite hilarious performance by Eileen Essel as the grandmotherly neighbor.
The special features on this disc are pretty sparse. It appears someone at the studio said "make sure we have a special features section...", so -- what you have is exactly TWO items:

* Behind-the-scenes featurette

* Deleted scenes

It was late when I finished the film, so I didn't even browse into the special features menu.

I give this a "2.5", just because they included something. I also gave the disc the benefit of the doubt because they included 2 total discs in the set. The first disc is the widescreen presentation of the film and the second disc is the full-screen version. I guess this is pretty cool, although every time I see a full-screen DVD offered I say (to myself, hopefully, and not out loud): "dammit - when will people figure out that those "black bars" at the top and bottom of the screen are supposed to be there". So many people who pick up the full-frame version of the DVDs are just short changing themselves and their collections. If the studios want to do something to help them continue to segment the rental vs. purchase market, they should make full-screen only available to the rental market and stop "dumbing-down" the store shelves.
I liked the movie a lot. This is just the kind of fun, dark comedy that can mix-up your viewing list and provide a few laughs before bed on a Sunday night.

In a week that saw Cold Creek Manor, School of Rock and Looney Tunes - Back in Action released, this is a stand out pic. Not nearly as dark as Very Bad Things but edgier than the other comedies out this week -- this is a pleaser.

I give it a blind-buy rating of "3.5", because most of you will be perfectly happy to rent this (if you choose to see it at all - after all, it didn't even manage $10M at the box office). Despite the anemic theatrical performance, I think it is a worthwhile addition to the growing collection and is likely to find another viewing on a slow (and rainy) Saturday afternoon.

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