Release Date: April 30, 2004

I loved this movie when it starred John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd and was called Neighbors.

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On paper, this movie has some potential. It stars the usually-reliable Ben Stiller, who has a natural gift for comedy in the right projects and Jack Black, scene stealer extraordinaire from BOP favorite, High Fidelity. Now granted, as recently as two years ago, Jack Black had gotten to be the Ashton Kutcher of the day--i.e., that goofy guy people initially thought was funny and subversive until he became pop culturally ubiquitous and waaaaaay too amused by his own "outrageous" humor. But after he and Will Ferrell provided possibly the only funny moments in the entire Oscars ceremony this year, we have welcomed him back into our hearts and are now willing to list him on the "Assets" side of Envy's balance sheet.

Looking down the cast list, we also have Christopher Walken and Ving Rhames, both of whom can be just "cool" personified. Sadly, neither one seems to be "good movie selecting" personified on any kind of consistent basis. But again, we're willing to give them the benefit of the doubt here 'cause we like to imagine they both sat around the Envy set and reminisced about Quentin Tarantino's craptacular attempts at acting. Rounding out the main cast is Rachel Weisz (who still owes us reparations for Enemy at the Gates, despite her admittedly appealing performance in About A Boy) and Amy Poehler of SNL and the supremely weird sketch show, Upright Citizen's Brigade.

And then we get to the more dodgy aspects of this production. While director Barry Levinson has made some fine, fine movies in his career, virtually all of them were at least 10 years ago and very few of them were comedies. On top of that, the screenplay was co-written by Larry David, of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame. I place this in the "dubious news" category, as I personally have never been all that excited by Larry David's brand of "petty, nasty assholes are FUN-ny" humor. (Yes, I realize that to many people, admitting this is just a sign that I sold my sense of humor in exchange for a bottle of Thunderbird and a handful of shiny beads. All I'm saying is that I don't think Larry David is the comedic equivalent of the Second Coming of Christ. And before you email me on this one, go watch Sour Grapes first and then try to convince me of his immaculate infallibility.)

Anyway, Mr. David and newcomer Steve Adams have come up with the following plot: Tim (Stiller) and Nick (Black) are life-long best buddies whose friendship is threatened when Nick becomes rich from his invention the "Va-poo-rizer," a spray that makes dog....droppings magically disappear. (All I'm sayin' here is that it takes a brave, brave bunch of guys to make a movie in which the words "dog shit" are going to play a dominant role in the press kit.) The more successful Nick becomes, the more Tim is overcome with...you guessed it--envy, particularly since Tim passed on the opportunity to invest in Nick's idea early on. Walken plays an "oddball drifter" who rather mysteriously shows up to help Tim drop Nick down a peg or two, but as these things usually turn out, he just ends up making Tim's life worse.

This movie was originally set to open back in the beginning of summer 2003, then was pushed back a week or two, and then eventually punted all the way into April 2004. As faithful BOP readers will know by now, this is rarely a good sign. The decidedly unenthusiastic response that the first trailer has gotten doesn't help either. Still, we hate to root against Stiller, so we'll keep a small glimmer of hope alive that Envy will exceed current expectations. (Jennifer Turnock/BOP)

Vital statistics for Envy
Main Cast Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz
Supporting Cast Amy Poehler, Christopher Walken, Ving Rhames
Director Barry Levinson
Screenwriter Steve Adams, Larry David
Distributor DreamWorks
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://www.dreamworks.com/envy/
Rating PG-13
Screen Count 2,445
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for Envy
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Meet the Parents 10/6/0028.62 32.01 2614 10949.00 11781.9 166.23 185.96 5.81
Shallow Hal 11/9/0123.28 24.84 2771 8401.00 8624.0 70.83 75.59 3.03
Zoolander 9/28/0115.70 16.75 2507 6262.00 6428.2 45.16 48.19 2.88



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