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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.


Duplex (2003) on IMDb

Plot Overview

PackingAn optimistic young couple Alex Rose (Ben Stiller) and his beloved wife Nancy Kendricks (Drew Barry­more) have set aside a nest egg enabling them to move out of their East Side digs into a Brooklyn brown­stone duplex that's “almost too good to be true.” Maintaining a “poker face” they negotiate with real estate agent Kenneth (Harvey Fier­stein) and close the deal, bluff and all. Nancy predicts they'll make a “bazillion times” profit once the “sweet little old lady,” Irish-Catholic Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essell,) their rent-controlled tenant, is eventually gone. What kind of tea leaves told her that? Murray's Movers “will take you to the promised land.” They're being taken for a ride.

This reminds me of living in a cottage in Oregon down the hill from a large park, to be close to nature and wild­life. I left my picture window door open at night in the summer to get a cool breeze and so acquired a rat-controlled tenant. One dare not set a mouse trap for a shrew, because breaking its skin releases a noxious odor. I constructed a live trap from materials at hand, then moved the critter at night next door across the property line figuring it would get the message. It came right back. That's like stage one of futzing around with Mrs. Connelly; didn't accomplish a thing; they were just spinning their wheels.

In stage two I put myself in jeopardy. I reconstructed the trap and this time moved the guy all the way up to the park itself. In transit I had to worry about being stalked by the neighbor­hood cougars. And for all that, the shrew returned. The couple's dealing with Mrs. Connelly came to the attention of beat cop Officer Dan (Robert Wisdom) who determined to keep his eye on these two “slum lords.”

This insufferable situation called for drastic measures. He wasn't coming back again. This time I determined to help him commit assisted suicide off the Eddie Knicker­bocker bike bridge. Should he per­chance not drown, he'd never thread his was across the winding terrain to my place again. On the way down to the river, though, I found a card­board box to make a boat out of to float him even farther away. He jumped right out of it, but I figured he was far enough away that I was quit of him. Two days later he was back. He was so happy he did a happy dance out­side my door. I guess this was his home, after all, so I let him stay and patrol the grounds while I kept my sliding door closed.

Mrs. Connelly was for the movie couple a severe enough problem that they thought about: “snapping her neck, electrocuting her, beating her to death, decapitating her, drowning her, bludgeoning her, in a humane way. Dicing her up into little pieces, but asphyxiating her first so she didn't feel anything.” They finally moderated their means to a pillow, a gun, or a hit man. The plot lends itself to alternate endings: establish enforceable boundaries, or wait until she dies a natural death or from a NYC predator, or move away them­selves. I'm sure the writers will have come up with something.


People who buy new homes tell us to make allowance for additional expenses on top of the closing price. Wise king Solomon has it, (Prov. 24:27) “Prepare thy work with­out, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and after­wards build thine house.” I take that to mean one should tailor his housing to his means to support it, including his victory garden. Let's see how this couple was doing. The duplex was on the “high end of our price range,” meaning they weren't allowing much margin.

Nancy had her own work as an art designer for a magazine, but that would be gone once she started having children. Maybe even sooner once we look at her demanding boss Herman (Wallace Shawn) whom she had communications problems with. If she had to find another job, she might not get all the over­time hours she had with this one.

Alex was a writer, a “mid-level author” according to his publicist Jean (Swoosie Kurtz.) Mrs. Connelly viewed it as “more of a hobby than a real job.” She compared him to James Joyce who wrote truly wonderful stories but he died “a drunk and penniless.” The widow Connelly's husband, big Dick, had been a seaman, one who worked par excellence out­side the home. Alex was counting on those around him to treat his home office as his private space during office hours, a concept that was lost on the old lady. Oh, well.

plumberThere is the income on the side to bolster the main one, in this case a rental, but it was rent-controlled for the duration of its current occupancy, bringing in less by far than its expenses. There's always maintenance costs, with an old unit and an elderly occupant especially. Looks like a losing proposition to me.

Production Values

” (2003) was directed by Danny DeVito based on a story by Larry Doyle. It stars Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, and Eileen Essell. Stiller and Barry­more seemed to be made for the parts of the easily bamboozled couple; they were naturals. Essell an English­woman, though, has the memorable part playing the old Irish biddy; she just sticks in your craw. The supporting cast included eager Harvey Fier­stein as a study in a crooked real estate agent, Wallace Shawn as Barry­more's mercurial boss, and Swoosie Kurtz as Stiller's disap­pointed publisher. Also featured were Justin Theroux as Cooper Sinclair a successful writer of drivel, James Remar as pornog­rapher Chick who does wet work on the side, and Robert Wisdom as gay Officer Dan.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for sexual content, language and some violence. Music was arranged by David New­man. The Christmas holiday season was not overplayed. Camera angles and speeds made for some interesting effects.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“Duplex” is a very funny black comedy of the single note variety, which was well done never­the­less. Don't expect it to make the top of the comedy lists, but it does maintain the humor. Danny DeVito plays us for our human sympathies for the couple and the tenant as a joke to make the more drastic solutions seem tolerable.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.