starring Ben Stiller, Drew Barrymore, Eileen Essel, Justin Theroux
screenplay by Larry Doyle and John Hamburg
directed by Danny DeVito
by Walter Chaw Danny DeVito's Duplex begins promisingly enough as a dark comedy, its resemblances to The War of the Roses (and Throw Momma from the Train) only natural as DeVito directed both of those as well. But by its sunny conclusion, Duplex is a spineless bit of populist garbage that tries to mine broad cheer from the murder of an irritating old lady. The movie of value in this premise is one that examines the ways that young people hate the frailties of senior citizens, and for long stretches of the picture, the neo-yuppies played by Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore are cast as self-centered assholes more interested in procreation and real-estate values than in the golden years of their upstairs tenant. Sadly, DeVito is the worst kind of coward, condescending to an audience he doesn't believe able to handle ambiguity, crafting in the process a film that so completely betrays its moments of audacity at its conclusion that the failure of Duplex lingers in memory as something to be more pitied than derided.