starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz, Amy Poehler
screenplay by Steve Adams
directed by Barry Levinson
by Walter Chaw Reminding a great deal of the masticated wonderlands of Joe Dante's The 'burbs and his own Toys, Barry Levinson's Envy operates within a carefully constructed artifice. It's a fantasy of suburbia filthy with arrested men-children and the dolls who love them, helplessly acting out music-box morality plays against a backdrop of outsized slapstick. At it's best, the film evokes the diorama lollapalooza of Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (indicated by its affection for the image of a snow globe), floating along on the undercurrent of meanness that defines Burton's Pee-Wee's Big Adventure like a twisted form beneath a multi-coloured blanket. Disturbingly unmoored monologues about the joy of running a pretzel stand and an invitation to catharsis as "let it tumble out like circus freaks" are made all the more peculiar by the delivery of Christopher Walken, playing a character named obliquely--after Kafka or Christ--J-Man. Redemption and oppression in one Camus parcel, Envy is the story of an everyman toiling under the yoke of the peculiarly American sickness of being completely average while nursing a sense of outrageous entitlement.