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Duplex
2003 - PG-13 - 97 Mins.
Director: Danny DeVito
Producer: Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Stuart Cornfeld, Richard N. Gladstein, Nancy Juvonen, Meryl Poster
Written By: Larry Doyle and John Hamburg
Starring: Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel, Harvey Fierstein, Justin Theroux
Review by: Joe Rickey
   
Danny DeVito is no doubt a prolific actor who many believe also is a quality director. That statement is either true or false depending on the films you remember him directing. If you only remember such films as Death to Smoochy and Matilda you would be led to believe that he picks terrible scripts to direct. However, he also directed The War of the Roses, the 1989 film starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner and Hoffa starring Jack Nicholson; two high quality films. So it is easy to see that the quality of his films fluctuates from utter trash to fantastic. Duplex, his latest directorial entry, is a dark comedy about a couple who move into a duplex in New York City and have to deal with the old lady who gets on their nerves. They soon decide to get her to move out of the duplex any way they can so they can have the place to themselves. Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore star as the couple and Eileen Essel as the tenant.

Duplex is a surprisingly funny film. The setup is not unlike a grown up version of Home Alone, what with the couple setting up traps in an attempt to get rid of their tenant. The film starts off on a good note as the couple is searching for a place to stay in New York City. They have been doing so for a while and are getting frustrated. Then their broker (Harvey Fierstein) shows them the duplex, complete with large rooms and a whopping three fireplaces. Stiller’s character likes the place because he believes that it will have the peace and quiet necessary for him to finish the novel he had been working on. Barrymore’s character simply likes the grandness of the place. They believe the asking price is a little too high but nonetheless they decide to make it their home. They both don’t bat an eye at the tenant who they believe to be nice old lady at first.

Then the lady quickly becomes an annoyance because she plays the TV much too loud and comes over multiple times a day complaining about such and such problem. They ask her if they could buy out her lease but that tactic doesn’t end well as Stiller is accused of sexual misconduct. Then they decide to do anything possible to get the lady out of their lives.

The actors all perform quite well in their respective roles. Eileen Essel is appropriately annoying and comes across as humorous in her character’s neurotic state of mind. Barrymore really gets our sympathy, as she is both sweet and hard working. Stiller though gives the best performance of the film as he makes every situation that much more witty through his delivery of the lines. He gives perhaps his best performance since There’s Something About Mary.

Overall, Duplex is a wickedly funny example of a dark comedy and a return to the Danny DeVito of old when it comes to being a director.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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