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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Beam It Up, Scotty

Envy on IMDb

Plot Overview

man w/a plan

performance reportbusinessmanmoney bagsValley yuppies Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller) and Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black) are best friends working at 3M where the latter's promotion is delayed for his lack of focus (“You're a dreamer.”) One of his crazy ideas an aerosol dog poo vaporizer (Vapoorizer) works and catapults him to instant success leaving his neighbor living under his nose envious to the nth degree. Perhaps some judicious management of their predicament can restore the damage done their friendship.

grocery shoppingUnremarked upon is the sword of Damocles hanging over these chumps: the flight path of airplanes seen and heard traversing the sky above their homes and the thicket of power lines above them. Noise nuisance from the one can over time weaken the immune system, and radiation from the other can cause cancer. Modern technology acting unseen or unheard can be deadly. Nobody knows where the poo goes after it has been sprayed, but hidden dangers can take it off the shelf.

red maple leavesMaking things disappear is nothing new to science, and this twist is just the latest. Indigenous Americans invented maple syrup, and in the 19th century, the advent of horse- or ox-drawn carts speeded delivery of raw maple sap to the evaporizers for processing. Nick's horse Corky was the friends' shared pet representing this technology. When some syrup at break­fast got spilled onto the cloth, unseen fingers motivated by a sweet tooth dabbed it up and, presto, it disappeared.

woman in
fur coatCome the twentieth century and we've got lipo­suction. Where did those extra inches around the waist of Tim's wife Debbie (Rachel Weisz) disappear to after their ship came in? Not saying.

There's a new coffeepot sitting on the counter, resembling a rocket ship. Space, the final frontier. The demo of dog turds being sprayed away looks just like a trans­porter beaming stuff up in Star Trek. “Up and out,” is how Nick puts it. It's future science courtesy of co-worker Dimitriov (Manny Klein­muntz) in research who was ahead of his time.

Then Nick's thick wife Natalie (Amy Poehler) decides to run for state senate. Her plat­form is the environ­ment. Their bug house in the yard keeps insects out, but the screens let in cooling air in the evening. The old method of disposing of a dog's business involved scooping it into a plastic bag where the trapped warm air around the turd will keep it moist & pliable unlike the cold, hard turd on the ground that's lost its heat due to convection and/or conduction as in a Berger novel where, “the parrot suddenly ejected a spurt of liquid excre­ment, which solidified instantly when it hit the news­papers on the cage floor, forming another oyster-colored clump with seeds, chaff, and gravel” (113.) Any radiant heat escaping through the thin clear plastic around the turd doesn't amount to squat, unlike how 19th century science would have it. Back then they thought hot houses worked by minimizing infrared radiation through the glass siding. Science writer Alan Siddons in a chapter on “A Long List of Misconceptions,” writes of that theory, “It is 19th century poppy­cock” (62.) In reality, green­houses merely suppress convective heating loss, preventing the heated air from dissipating. It is air that's trapped, not radiation; glass's response to infra­red (IR) has nothing to do with it (63.) (The futuristic movie “The Martian” shows Earth scientists having got wise to green­houses staying warm from blocking convection, not radiation.) That 19th century science is the root of our manmade, green­house gas, global warming, cocka­mamie theory. Acknowledge some variation in the earth's orbit, which NASA says is cyclical, and email-gate, and you've got a theory easy to debunk by a half-brained housewife.

Natalie's big rally occurs next to a humming power substation, a river with ripe unmentionables floating in it, and sign-waving picketers shouting from the over­looking highway, "WHERE DOES THE SH!T GO?" It looks like the gig is up.


“Envy” is an object lesson in avoiding both extremes à la (Prov. 30:7) “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:”

groceriesdinnerfamily dinner(Prov. 30:8-9) “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Here is a success based on vanity: “Where does it go?” and in Tim's case on lying when his new drinking buddy J-Man (Christopher Walken) has him “shake things up” and it back­fires. J-Man is a bum acquainted with poverty and Nick is rich. “Food convenient for me” is displayed in the regular fare of a middle class suburbanite: pancakes, cereal, and a TV dinner. The bum munches on pretzels & crackers, the rich man is served semi-gourmet flan.

religious orderWealth causes Nick to neglect the almighty who wasn't high on his agenda to begin with. He and Tim fly to Europe to expand inter­nationally. “I'm gonna kick ass in Rome,” he says. On the flight there, Tim—now a partner—suggests they, “Target Zoos.” Between the Church and the zoos, at least one of them is, “full of poop.” Like­wise, J-Man doesn't let God take up much room in his life to begin with, but having avoided getting busted by the fuzz on his larcenous scheme to help Tim he remarks, “Dumb Smokey,” i.e. holy smokes!

Production Values

” (2004) was directed by Barry Levinson. It was written by Steve Adams. It stars Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz, Christopher Walken, and Amy Poehler. Hey, all the actors were out­standing, every last one of them. Stiller and Black made a memorable duo. Walken was a standout as a dyed-in-the-wool bum.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for language and sexual/crude humor. The cinematography was solid, the pacing was fine, the tension was palpable, the children were credible, the house­wives were good looking, and the jabs at politicians were subtle. The humor I would characterize as continental, in the back­ground rather than the typical in-your-face American fare, which results in an unsophisticated audience being put off. There is no actual mention made of the frequent noisy jet fly-overs or of the power lines festooning the property, so with­out a lurking sense of hidden menace, the film might seem too vanilla. It's 1 hour and 39 minutes long.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

I really liked this movie and was impressed by its imaginative writing. It didn't do very well at the box office, but audiences are fickle. See it if you think it would appeal to you.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Family Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, Print.

Ball, Timothy, & Alan Siddons, Claes Johnson et al. Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory. Mount Vernon: Stairway Press, 2011. Print.

Berger, Thomas. Sneaky People. Copyright © 1975 by Thomas Berger. New York: Simon and Schuster. Print.