Envy (2004) starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz, Amy Poehler, Christopher Walken directed by Barry Levinson Movie Review

Envy (2004)   1/51/51/51/51/5

Ben Stiller and Jack Black in Envy (2004)

It's the Poo

There is a line in the movie "Envy" where Rachel Weisz's character Debbie proclaims "I don't get your jokes some times", that could have been expanded to "I don't get this movie at all". Seriously "Envy" has to be one of the unfunniest comedies I have ever watched and in truth the only time I laughed was when Jack Blacks character came up with the name "Va-poo-rizer" for the magic spray which makes poo disappear. But I guess I am not alone as not only did "Envy" get held back from release it performed so badly in the US that it went direct to video in Europe and Jack Black is rumoured to have apologized for it, that says a lot.

Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller - Starsky and Hutch) and Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black - School of Rock) are not that different, they live opposite each other, they are both married with kids and both work at the 3M factory. The only difference is that Nick is a bit of a dreamer always thinking of ideas which may make him rich whilst Tim dismisses them. So when Nick invents "Va-poo-rizer" a magic spray which makes dog poo disappear not only does it make Nick ridiculously wealthy but also brings out a touch of envy in Tim. With Tim's life spiralling out of control as his envy gets the better of him things get crazy when he meets quirky drifter J-Man (Christopher Walken).

Christopher Walken as J-Man in Envy (2004)

I suppose the intention was for "Envy" to be a black comedy where things get crazier and darker for Ted as his envy gets the better of him and in fact that wouldn't have been a bad movie. But that isn't how "Envy" comes across and not only is it devoid of anything close to being funny it lacks the sharpness to make it feel in the slightest bit dark. You sort of have to ask how could it have gone so wrong because something surely did to make the end product 99 minutes you wish you could get back.

Part of the problem is that instead of being dark "Envy" is just bizarre with an uneasy tone and some strange humour. To try and give you an example Nick's wife Natalie played by Amy Poehler decides to run for Congress, the little local congress senate thing as she puts it. I know it's meant to be amusing that she is entering politics without a clue but the joke fall flat as do the jokes about Nick becoming ridiculously rich and owning a horse. Of course they must have seemed funny when written down but that humour doesn't transfer to the screen and considering that 4 of the 5 main cast members are known for their comic abilities you really do wonder what went wrong.

That leads me to the cast which alongside Ben Stiller and Jack Black there is also Amy Poehler, Christopher Walken and Rachel Weisz and the biggest irony is that Weisz delivers the movies few funny scenes. For whatever reason the double act of Ben Stiller and Jack Black doesn't work and there is no comical spark between them which in the end just makes them annoying. And it is a huge pity that Amy Poehler was so under used that I reckon her scenes may have only totalled up to 10 minutes.

What this all boils down to is that "Envy" is a bad movie and not the sort which crosses the line and becomes good for being bad. It is little wonder that Jack Black is said to have apologized for the movie because it is 99 minutes of unfunny comedy.