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ENVY

By Mark Bazer

This quirky modern-day fable from Barry Levinson is the kind of movie you appreciate more than enjoy. Thou shall not covet thy neighborís house that he bought with earnings from a miracle spray that makes dog poop disappear is the moral here, at least until the happy dénouement. Ben Stiller and Jack Black play two schlubby neighbors who toil in middle-management jobs at a sandpaper factory to support their families. Their lives really arenít bad at all ó Stillerís character is buying a pool ó but out of plot necessity (and a little Hollywood condescension), modest suburbia is painted as hell. Then Black, an eternally good-natured dreamer, strikes it rich with Vapoorizer and builds a ludicrous mansion on his property. Consumed with jealousy, Stiller sees his life turn to shit; he even has to cover up for having accidentally killed Blackís prized white horse in a drunken state. Most of the humor is more clever than laugh-aloud. Thatís fine, but what could have been a tidy, smart little film is ruined in the final 20 minutes with first a lengthy discussion about envy and then a quick, convenient conclusion. Amy Poehler, Rachel Weisz, and a very funny Christopher Walken co-star. (99 minutes) At the Apple Valley, Entertainment, Flagship, Holiday, Providence Place 16, Showcase, and Tri-Boro cinemas.


Issue Date: May 7 - 13, 2004
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