Duplex DVD Review

Cover Art and Menu: 7/10
The cover is expectedly uninspired. If you are thinking, “wow they cocoon an old lady in yarn like Frodo in Lord of the Rings, Return of the King….you are incorrect. I’m not sure where this image came from, but it’s not in the movie. I suppose it is setting the tone of the story, or something like that. I wonder how long the photographer made Stiller and Barrymore sit on that poor woman!!!

The menus are not given much more attention except that they use some animated images that are part of the introduction of the movie. Other than that I didn’t have a lot of love for the overall package of the DVD. This is not one of those DVD’s that anyone put a lot of effort into. I’m not sure why, it’s a great film and deserves more.

Extras & Features: 3/10
If you are a fan of Duplex the way I now am, you will also notice the serious lack of extras. Come on movie companies, we beg of you, use all the space you have on the nice big DVD. It won’t kill you to grace us with a few more nuggets of movie goodness, it’s only money you greedy bastar…oh sorry, never mind.

I am tempted to not even talk about the abysmal extras on this DVD, however, I will honor the tradition of listing them and offering brilliant synopsis of each and every one (or two as the case may be).

I do have to mention that this is a 2 disc set. Don’t get too excited. It’s an interesting package because they have put the full screen version on one disc alone and then the wide screen version with the (cough cough) extras. I’m not sure why they did this, I personally don’t care about having a full screen version, but I suppose someone might still like to watch their movies like that.

  • Deleted Scenes– There is a “play all” option. That’s the best I can do when the Deleted Scenes make up 50% of the “extras”. (grumpf)
  • Behind The Scenes Special – One very very short and uninformative “behind the scenes” clip that consists of just basic footage of the cast and crew.

The Movie: 8/10
What do you say about a slap stick comedy that has more mishaps than an episode of I Love Lucy? Answer: It must be a Ben Stiller movie! That is not a bad thing my friends. I have always prided myself on being somewhat of a snob when it comes to movies. I have elevated my ego on many occasions when I was convinced that if the topic of conversation was some big Hollywood sweetheart of a movie I could hold my head high and look way down my nose at those who are amused at the basic humorous tricks that befall these comedy of error flicks.

I could pat those poor souls on there misguided heads like the lap dogs they are to the Hollywood machine. But then, something happened a few years ago. I starting watching movies that made me laugh so hard that snobbiness somehow all leaked out of my pretentious noggin and I had a good time..EEEKKKK God forbid my smug little brain would laugh at a thirty something semi-yuppie-wannabe couple trying to do great bodily harm to their upstairs elderly tenant, but so it goes. These days I can admit it, I watched Duplex and I laughed, laughed, laughed.

This is not unexpected. If you have read any of my reviews you will find that in my old age I have let the dark side seep into my film watching optical nerve, which used to be tight under lock and key, but now I actually find all kinds of movies entertaining….oh my God.

Flash back to nineteen eighty-something, it was a late night of sneaking a few movies on HBO on a school night and along came The Best Little Whore House in Texas. A quaint little movie starring Burt Reynolds and Dolly Pardon. I was young, impressionable, and in the years to come I would dismiss my laughter and strange fondness of that musical disaster as lack of experience, lack of wisdom, lack of maturity. The truth has since come clear to me. Alas, I liked the movie because I liked it, I have no excuse. The bizarre singing and dancing, the charming prostitutes, the sheer insanity of Gomer Pile being a deputy sheriff, it was all so intoxicating.

You think I’m joking. I’m sadly serious. I loved that movie and I still do. So, there is something I have to do now that breaks my heart. I have to relinquish my membership to the “Movie Snobs of America” club. It was fun while it lasted, but now I have to move on and soak up as many movies in my lifetime that I possibly can regardless of genre. Whew..I feel so free. Ok, now onto business.

Duplex proved to be a hysterical movie for me. It’s so funny I am determined to watch it again…hold on while I put in the DVD (hum elevator music for approximately one minute while you wait)…What won me over? Silliness, awkward moments, over the top situations, clever dialogue, great performances, great set design, seamless directing and, um….it’s funny.

For those of you who scoff at this kind of comedy of errors feel free to go watch a documentary about watching paint dry. The rest of us will have a few laughs.

It starts with some cool animation and narration by Danny DeVito, who directed the thing. It’s a well used tool in the comedy arena, but it’s a pretty lively way to start the movie.

Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore are perfectly matched in this movie (gush gush). They have the kind of old fashioned timing and reactions to one another that puts me in mind of the classic TV series, The Honeymooners. They are just a more modern updated version, which surprisingly has a lot of the same characteristics of that old kind of comedy. Lots of emotional, if not exaggerated, facial responses, strained glances, and loads of physicality make these characters very watchable and suck you into the story because of it.

The subject matter might be disturbing to some people who are ultra sensitive in this relentlessly politically correct world, but since I’m not one of them, I find it quite amusing. The good news is that young couple buy a wonderful duplex in New York City for a great price. He’s a writer, she’s a magazine layout designer, and they seem unlikely to be reduced to sniveling, miserable victims of circumstance, as any good comedy of this stature might dictate.  The bad news is that the elderly rent controlled tenant upstairs who is, well, kind of needy and her greatest talent is to reduce landlords to sniveling miserable victims of circumstance. What a coincidence.

Stiller is enlisted to help out the tenant only to discover that she is not the sweet old lady they were made to believe she was when the bought the duplex. Shocking, I know. The lady who plays Mrs. Connelly makes the movie worth seeing all on her own. She is so funny and feisty. She’s in her 80’s and she does the comedy bits right along with the best of them. She even does a bit of River Dance at one point.

As this old woman upstairs slowly destroys their lives they become desperate to free themselves from her endless errands and odd jobs. This movie has everything from big stunts to eating gross things. All it needs is Joe Rogan, girls in bikinis, and a few Fear Factor flags for the final touches..haha

There have always been comedies like Duplex, some good, some not so good, and some brilliant. Let’s go back a few years to The Money Pit and bask in the beauty of water leaks, holes in floors, and other various “fixer upper” kinds of features for a young couple to cope with. The Money Pit was not in the brilliant or even good category so it was always a bit flat for me, a giggle or two, but it never comes close to being as entertaining as Duplex. Something About Mary comes to mind when I think of not only Stiller, but the theme of one thing going wrong after another. Meet the Parent also hits that category. Hmmm Stiller is making a pretty cushy living at this stuff when you think about it. Thankfully he’s an excellent performer and so funny to watch or else it would be kind of monotonous after a while. Maybe when he’s 87 and still falling down I might think it’s kind of boring, but for now I love it.

Barrymore has come a long way in her life and no one can say she does not offer any movie goer a lot of variety. I love to watch her and I think she can do just about anything she puts her mind to (more gushing). I don’t want any more Charlie’s Angels though, if she could promise me that I would be happy.

I’m a huge Danny DeVito fan, so his direction is a giant bonus. He is the heart of why this movie has the style and look that it does.

Seriously folks, this is a fun movie. Be aware that there is some mild comedic violence, they make me say that..haha and the idea that a pair of young ambitious punks try to take out a poor little old lady, well, that’s just offensive isn’t it? No. This is a great Saturday night movie to sit back and have many big laughs at the hapless pair’s expense.

Value: 5/10
Unless they offer this DVD for $12 or less, it’s too much. I’m telling you people right now, there is NO EXCUSE for there to be no extras, or crappy extras, on DVD’s these days. If they insist on giving us a great movie, then they need to add more extras to beef up the DVD, otherwise, offer us the DVD for a price that makes sense. $20 is too much for just a good movie. There is no way you can argue me out of that opinion. Others have tried and failed to convince me that making a DVD is expensive…bah.

I have to say that this is most definitely a must have for DeVito, Stiller, or Barrymore fans, but anybody else just looking for a laugh would be better served to rent it. Don’t wait for it to come out on cable though, I do recommend seeing it ASAP. It’s a fun time, trust me.

Final Thought:
I have to say that because the extras are so poor on this DVD it lowered the score considerably. I don’t want anyone who is a fan of any of these people to be duped into thinking they will get a good behind-the-scenes feature to watch after the movie, because that just ain’t happening my friend. Buyer Beware.

Overall Score: 8/10