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Envy

Starring Ben Stiller and Jack Black; Rachel Weisz, Amy Poehler and Christopher Walken
Screenplay by Steve Adams
Directed by Barry Levinson
website: www.dreamworks.com

IN SHORT: Hands down hysterically funny. [Rated PG-13 for Language and Sexual/Crude Humor. 99 minutes]

If anything, it is as sure a sign that writer Steve Adams has, hands down, penned the funniest movie of the year because the rest of this paragraph is absolutely true: The night before our screening of Envy, our long time Dreamworks publicist (so longtime that we knew her when she was working PR for Disney) died of that cancer. The Dreamworks publicist running our screening of Envy wasn't going to inform us of that fact until after the screening was over, but it slipped out. Twenty critics filed into the screening room and at least half of us didn't want to be there.

That being said. we laughed our butts off. Given the fact that we were numb and on the verge of tears as the lights went down, we're guessing that Envy is even funnier than we thought it was. That funny was as extreme as the concept which kicks off this rollicking comedy.

Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller) and Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black) are life-long friends. They live in houses that face each other on the same street. They both work at a company called, if we heard it right, 3N -- we heard it as "3M" but we don't see a trademark acknowledgement in the credits so we must be wrong -- and life is wonderfully middle class. Tim is happily married to Debbie (Rachel Weisz). Nick is happily married to Natalie (Amy Poehler). The only thing that truly intrudes on this wonderful life is the refuse that neighbors who don't scoop the poop leave behind. 'Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing to create something in a can that could vaporize the poop?' thinks Nick. "Yes it would!" agrees a company chemist called Dmitroff. Thus is born VaPooRize in a can. The scheme needs four grand to get started. Nick offers halfsies to his best bud, who passes because the idea "can't possibly work."

Thanks to the wonderful world of informercials, VaPooRize becomes the hottest thing around. It makes Nick and Natalie wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. They could move to Beverly Hills but they don't. They just build the biggest house in the neighborhood and name it Casa Corky, after their new horse. They could wear the most fabulous clothes but, well, that's part of the joke. Poor Tim hits a local bar, there finding advice on how to deal with his newly and relatively impoverished state from the J-Man (Christopher Walken)

Tim and Debbie fall into the role of hangers on, while Nick and Natalie have no idea that their life has become a picture perfect example of trickle down economics. Natalie decides to run for public office, not that she has any idea which office she's actually running for, and VaPooRize becomes part of her opponent's attack ads. We can't tip that gag. This is a family oriented site.

Stiller and Black are a perfect team, IOHO. The former's conservative reaction and the latter's unbridled exuberance kick out serious comic jams. As long as you have no built in aversion to occasional potty mouth language, Envy should have you rolling in the aisle.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Envy, he would have paid . . .

$9.00

Spend the money. See it.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.