Published Oct 01, 2003Danny DeVito loves black comedies, and Duplex, starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore, follows in the footsteps of his previous works, Throw Momma From the Train and Death to Smoochy. Like both those movies, the plot of Duplex revolves around repeated attempts to murder an unlikely target, in this case an elderly tenant who is making a young couple's (Stiller and Barrymore) life a living hell.
While most dark comedies use subtlety and a wink, nudge brand of humour to entertain the audience, Duplex goes the opposite route, beating us over the head with slapstick that seems like American Pie for the older crowd. Unfortunately in Duplex the jokes are just too obvious and we are bludgeoned with them, so by the time the gag does come, it lacks punch. This failure is underlined by the fact that Stiller and Barrymore never fully succeed in convincing the audience that they really want the old bat dead.
Sure, they attempt to kill her, but they never really seem to take it seriously enough. Duplex does have a couple funny moments, but in the end the gags are too obvious and the mood isn't dark enough. (Alliance Atlantis)