You had a sneaking suspicion from watching the trailer that
"Envy" was not about to win the Oscar for Best Picture, but you
always come in thinking
"Maybe the trailer wasn't that good, but the movie can't be THAT
and then you leave the theater angry as all get out because the
flick is such stinking dogshit.
And, even in a movie that is exactly ABOUT dogshit, "Envy" has
only one funny thing about it--a joke early in the film about the
dessert flan. Besides that, it was so quiet in my theater that
I was almost hoping that somebody's cell phone would ring, just to
break up the monotony.
Ben Stiller--I told you that overexposure would be bad for your
career--is listless as 3M production manager Tim Dingman, who lives
with his wife (Rachel Weisz) and two kids in a modest single-family
home somewhere in the 'burbs. His across-the-street neighbor,
Nick (Jack Black), has a wife (Amy Poehler), two kids, and a whole
headful of dreams and ambitions that have never been played
out...until he comes up with an idea: inventing a spray that
somehow makes dog poo evaporate, eliminating the need for a pooper
scooper the world over. Nick, Tim's best friend, gives Tim the
chance to partner with him on his dream, but Tim thinks the idea
is--you guessed it--dogshit, so he declines the offer...and, two
scenes and 18 months later, Nick is a multibillionaire, and worse,
he has built his empire in the same lot where his old house used to
be, so each day that Tim leaves to go to work, he has to suffer
through seeing his best friend rich, while he has remained poor.
"Poor" is an interesting descriptor for "Envy", because worse
that the fact that neither Stiller nor Black seems able to provide
us with any physical humor is the fact that Barry Levinson, who
directed this mess, may have officially confirmed that his greatness
as a director has ended. The man that gave us "Diner", "Rain
Man", "Good Morning Vietnam" and "The Natural" hasn't made a decent
movie in seven years ("Wag the Dog"), and if "Envy" was the man's
swan song, I really do hurt for him. Creativity is nowhere to
be found in "Envy", and while some of that is the horrific script,
so many of the sequences found in this film--from the blah credits
sequence to the blah family scenes to the blah ending to the blah
Christopher Walken, completely nullified by the direction
here--completely belong to Levinson.
When I left the theater, I really was thinking about "Gerry",
maybe the worst film of the last five years, and comparing it to
"Envy." We now have a frontrunner for worst film of the year!!
Rating: Hard Vice
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard