| October 1, 2003

It was a stressful evening. I knew it would be. Several years ago I saw called The Money Pit that has to do with a young couple and their first house and the pain they went through with it. And I knew from the Warnings (Previews) that Duplex would be just the same kind of thing: The protagonists in the flick have to go through hell and high water to get to the hopefully happy ending. The only redeeming reason to sit through stories like this is that hopefully it will be a lot of laughs along the way.
Sorry children, Duplex is lots of stress, no a lot of funny.
Ben Stiller (Meet the Parents) and Drew Barrymore (Gun Crazy, Ever After) play Alex Rose and Nancy Kendricks, a young (sort of) married couple looking to buy their first home. Their real estate agent (Harvey Fierstein from Independence Day and Mrs. Doubtfire) steers them to a duplex in Brooklyn that comes complete with a ninety plus year old tenant who is the only thing that stands between them and doubling their investment. They can not kick her out because of rent control laws but hopefully she is old enough that by the time the couple is ready to start a family, she will kick off, losing them their rent money but gaining them a second floor.
In The Money Pit, the antagonist was the house itself. In Duplex it is their tenant. Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essel), is at first glance, just an opinionated old lady who will keep to herself. If that were the case, we would not have a movie. Instead, we are treated to her nightly loud television playing and constant invasions into their lives. Indirectly, these interruptions will lead to the complete taking apart of Alex and Nancy’s lives which should make you laugh so hard until you cry.
Except you don’t.
There is a kicker that makes the movie understandable in the end but unfortunately it did not keep me from asking those silly logic questions that would have made the plot completely stupid. By way of example: Why would anyone buy a house (especially a duplex with a tenant) without ever seeing the entire property? And if the property was soooo specially priced, why, when they looked to sell the thing were they losing so much money? The best part of comedy is when there is some kernel of truth to make it believable.
I generally love Stiller and Barrymore. They are personable on screen and let’s face it, Drew is the thing that naughty daydreams are made of. But I felt very little chemistry. They were more like roommates than a married couple. And the best acting was done by Essel (Ali G Indiahouse).
The best thing about interest rates being so low at the moment is that if you miss Duplex you can just keep looking for another piece of movie property to spend you money on. Wait for cable.

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