Tuesday, 3 February 2009


Lowdown: A young couple shares a residence with an unrelenting nanny.
As I have been known to say, I like Ben Stiller. Thus when the opportunity to watch a Stiller film about which I never heard before presented itself I took it. Duplex, directed by Danny DeVito, is a black comedy from 2003. It is also classic Stiller, for good and worse.
The story follows a young middle class couple. He (Stiller) is a writer working from home, she (Drew Barrymore) works in a hot publishing position. Together they go looking for a place to live in New York that would flatter their status aspirations but would still be affordable. They settle for a place in Brooklyn, but there's a catch: the place is a duplex, which means they would have to share with the current occupant - a old nanny that looks and sounds as if she's going to die in a matter of minutes. Or is she?
Well, once they move in they discover the granny is not planning on going out yet. What she is planning on is watching Hawaii 5:0 reruns loudly during the middle of the night and harassing her new landlords during the day. Stiller & Co, who obviously never had to contend with a baby, find their sleep deprived life a nightmare. They both lose their jobs, and as they are about to lose their sanity that adopt a new tactic: trying less and less moral ways to get rid of their tenet.
Duplex' comedy is derived from two sources: the straight forward ordeals the nanny takes our couple through, and the more sophisticated plots for ridding the world of said nanny that the "heroes" go through (and fail through). The result is funny, yet extremely predictable; it all fits the standard comedy templates way too well. There is not much in the way of originality with Duplex, which raises the question of whether having a laugh is worth going through something we have seen before and many times? I will let you decide.
Best scene: Stiller going out of his way to catch an airborne doze of a flu while riding the New York subway, intending to pass it on to the granny. Yes, Duplex deals with biological warfare.
Overall: Middle of the road 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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