Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Danny DeVito|
|Written by||Larry Doyle|
|Music by||David Newman|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films|
|Box office||$19.3 million|
Duplex is a 2003 American black comedy film directed and narrated by Danny DeVito, and starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore. The film was called Our House for its release in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Alex Rose (Ben Stiller) and Nancy Kendricks (Drew Barrymore) are a young, professional, married New York couple in search of their dream home. When they finally find the perfect Brooklyn brownstone, they are giddy with anticipation. The duplex is a dream come true, complete with multiple fireplaces, except for one thing: Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essell), the old lady who lives on the rent-controlled top floor. Assuming she is elderly and ill, they take the apartment.
However, they soon realize that Mrs. Connelly is in fact an energetic senior who enjoys watching her television at top volume day and night and rehearsing in a brass band. As a writer, Alex is attempting to finish his novel against a looming deadline. However, he is interrupted daily by Mrs. Connelly's numerous demands and requests, and what begins as a nuisance quickly escalates into an all-out war. Alex and Nancy try to get Mrs. Connelly to move out, but she refuses. Next, they try to file a noise complaint against her, but discover that she has already gone to the police first and filed a harassing complaint against them. Mrs. Connelly soon turns all of Alex and Nancy's friends against them by play-acting as the "poor, innocent, old lady" and makes it appear that the young couple are out to harm her.
When Nancy loses her job and Alex misses his deadline (all because of the old lady's antics) the pair are trapped at home together with Mrs. Connelly with no place to go. Their rage turns to homicidal fantasy as they plot ways to get rid of their manipulative, no-good neighbor. After peace overtures and a break-in lead to nothing, Alex and Nancy decide to hire a hitman, named Chick (James Remar), to kill her. However, his asking price for doing the hit is $25,000. Unable to initially come up with the money, Alex approaches his friend and fellow writer, Coop, to ask for a loan, but is rudely rebuffed. Desperate and needing the money in two days, they sell almost every possession they own to pay Chick who will do the hit on Christmas Eve. Chick does break into Mrs. Connelly's apartment as planned, but fails to kill her when she defends herself with her speargun by shooting him in the shoulder, forcing him to flee. Mrs. Connelly is incapacitated in the fight, and the duplex catches fire. Nancy and Alex appear to leave her to die, but then return and save her and her beloved parrot. The fire department puts out the fire.
Alex and Nancy decide to evict themselves, but find out that the old woman has died right when they leave. Alex and Nancy move away where they contemplate their strange encounters. But here the audience learns in a climatic plot twist that the realtor of the duplex, Kenneth (Harvey Fierstein) (revealed to be Mrs. Connelly's son) and the ill-tempered NYPD Officer Dan (Robert Wisdom) (Kenneth's gay lover) who had frequently harassed and distrusted the couple and always sided with Mrs. Connelly in her arguments with Alex and Nancy, and Mrs. Connelly herself (who is not in fact dead) have been doing this to others. The trio have been running a real-estate scam for several years: Kenneth sells the ground floor apartment to unsuspecting couples. Then Mrs. Connelly, aided by Dan, harasses the young couple, eventually forcing them to move out. Finally, Mrs. Connelly fakes her own death so that the couple will never suspect a thing, thus leaving Mrs. Connelly, Kenneth and Dan to collect and live off of the sales commission from the next unsuspecting occupants that buy the ground floor apartment. Despite all of this, Mrs. Connelly admits that she actually liked this particular couple and hopes that they find success and happiness elsewhere.
At the conclusion, it is revealed in a voice-over by Alex that he and Nancy relocated to the Bronx. Like all of the other couples that the trio scammed, they never saw Mrs. Connelly or returned to Brooklyn again. Alex used his unpleasant experience of living there as inspiration for writing his next book, titled "Duplex", which became a best-selling novel.
- Ben Stiller as Alex Rose
- Drew Barrymore as Nancy Kendricks
- Eileen Essell as Mrs. Connelly
- Harvey Fierstein as Kenneth
- Justin Theroux as Coop
- James Remar as Chick
- Robert Wisdom as Officer Dan
- Swoosie Kurtz as Jean
- Wallace Shawn as Herman
- Maya Rudolph as Tara
- Amber Valletta as Celine
- Michelle Krusiec as Dr. Kang
- Tracey Walter as Pharmacy Customer
- Danny DeVito as Narrator (voice)
The film has a 50/100 on Metacritic and a 35% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film two stars out of four and wrote that the "murder schemes aimed at Mrs. Connelly don't generate the laughter they should, maybe because no matter what she does, she still seems, irremediably, unredeemably, a sweet little old lady. [...] 'Duplex' is all about plotting; it tries to impose emotions that we don't really feel. We can't identify with Mrs. Connelly, that's for sure, but we can't identify with Alex and Nancy, either, because we don't share their frustration -- and the reason we don't is because we don't believe it. There's too much contrivance and not enough plausibility, and so finally we're just enjoying the performances and wishing they'd been in a more persuasive movie."
On a US $40 million budget, it grossed $9,692,135 in the US and $19,322,135 worldwide.
- "Duplex". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-09-11.
- "Our House Film Review", viewbirmingham.co.uk
- Duplex (2003) - Metacritic
- Duplex (2003) - Rotten Tomatoes
- Roger Ebert (September 26, 2003). Duplex Movie Review and Film Summary (2003). Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved March 27, 2016.
- Duplex (2003) - Box Office Mojo
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