Envy – 1 out of 5
Despite my fondness of Ben Stiller, Jack Black, and Christopher Walken (true story, I once performed a rendition of Shakespeare’s play that shall not be named doing an impression of Walken the entire time—it was as horrible as it sounds) but, even with this fact of enjoyment over these actors, I never jumped at the opportunity to watch Envy. In fact, I heard such horrible things about it that I put it on my Netflix queue to watch later. I never jumped at the opportunity to view it and every time it came up for delivery, I pushed it back towards the bottom of my queue. However, this last weekend, I gave in and watched it and, I realized, I could have waited infinitely longer.
|They are in a car together and there wasn't a "sing along to the radio" scene?|
Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller) and Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black) are stuck in a job that feels like it is going nowhere. Nick is a dreamer and is always trying to come up with the next big thing but Tim lectures him that he just needs to focus and do the best with where he’s at. One day, Nick comes up with an idea call the "Vapoorizer," an invention that, when sprayed on dog droppings, will make said feces simply disappear and eliminate the need to pick up dog waste all together. After Nick gets the product made, he becomes a millionaire and Tim is left to his soul-crushing job alone and must look in on the fabulous world of his best friend—and realize that Nick gave him an opportunity to get in on the ground floor but passed on it. Soon, Tim’s jealousy gets the better of him and he loses his job, sees his family ready to leave him, and finds himself being pushed towards revenge by a man who calls himself the J-Man (Christopher Walken).
|This is an actual shot from the film...it's not a metaphor, I swear.|
|I had to watch Zoolander after watching this to remind|
me why I am a fan of Ben Stiller.
Envy was pretty much panned entirely by critics and audiences when it came out and was so bad that it was going to be destined to only be released directly on video but was saved in the last minute and sent to theaters for nothing else than to try and make some of the money back. I remember thinking that with Stiller, Black, and Walken in the film, how could it really be that bad? However, the negative reviews still kept me from this film for an entire decade—shit, Stiller and Black actually publically apologized for how bad this film was. Granted, I didn’t think this film was absolutely atrocious but, I have to agree, this movie isn’t good.
|Okay, so the movie is literally beating a dead horse...|
The main problem with this film is it is just not funny. Yes, comedy is subjective and what one person finds hilarious, another may find mind-numbing, stupid, or even offensive. However, I just couldn’t laugh at this film. Once, at one point with Walken, I gave a small chuckle but the rest of the film was just me sitting in silence. Envy wants to be a dark comedy and have you find humor is locations that normally aren’t a breeding ground for comedy—for example, a major plot point involves Tim’s jealousy releasing itself in the form of drinking and, in his drunken stupor, he kills Nick’s prize horse. Dark comedies are already an acquired taste but this film just couldn’t tune in its humor to make these darker moments work. These scenes come off like first drafts of jokes and gags without any consideration of refining them. A majority of the time, scenes come off looking like someone flailing about desperately to try and get a pity laugh and it makes too much of the film sad and kinda embarrassing.
|I still love you even though you were in this film, Walken.|
|Well, if Walken and Stiller form a band, I already have|
their first album cover ready.
Finally, the cast really just looked like they didn’t give a shit. Black and Walken seem to be given their best with what little comedy the script has in it but Stiller just looks like he doesn’t care. I found this odd because Stiller can play the victim quite well but here, it just looked like he didn’t try. Additionally, the wives of Tim and Nick feel a tad superfluous due to their limited appearances in the film (there’s even a side-story that features Nick’s wife Debbie—played by the talented Amy Poehler—running for office but nothing ever really concrete or interesting results from it). Tim’s wife is played by Rachel Weisz but with the lack of any intrigue the character has, having the talented Weisz play the role felt ultimately pointless. Most of the time she comes off like background decoration of part of the set.
|In reality, Tim's wife could have been played by a person with a bag on their|
head and you never would have noticed. That's how little they do with her
in the story.
Pointless also describes the story and plot as the film feels like it is just meandering around an outline rather than an actual story or script. I already mentioned how Poehler’s character has a side-story that just sorta fizzles out with no real fanfare but the whole movie comes off this way. The basics of what is happening is there and you get that Tim is jealous but the movie never really makes you feel like you are going through Tim’s raging and depressing jealousy. It just feels like you are seeing certain segments of this journey and any real development the story needs for the characters is just tossed to the side and forgotten about.
|Well, if it's being sold on TV...I'll take 15!|
Envy could have easily been a decent dark comedy about one man’s jealously over his friend’s success but the film feels like it has no idea how comedy works, doesn’t really go into any satisfying details of its story and plot, and the cast barely appears to have any interest. I pushed this one off for 10 years but I could have easily pushed it off another decade or just never bothered to watch it at all.