As far as Hollywood is concerned, the center of the universe is Los Angeles. Another contingent of actors and filmmakers (most with uppity theater backgrounds) cling to the notion that the center of the universe is New York. Consequently, these locations serve as the setting of far too many movies, leaving audiences in the other 99% of the country to conclude: Who gives a shit about Los Angeles and New York besides the morons who live there?
Alex (Ben Stiller) and Nancy (Drew Barrymore) are desperately searching for an apartment in New York. Right away I ask the simple question: Why the hell don't you idiots move to a city with affordable housing? Instead, they find a duplex in Brooklyn that has one minor problem: Living on the floor above them, courtesy of rent control, is a little old lady named Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essel). Since Mrs. Connelly appears to be 105, there's a good chance she'll kick off and Alex and Nancy can take over the upstairs.
It turns out that Mrs. Connelly is the tenant from hell and Alex's and Nancy's living situation becomes so untenable that they consider ways to kill the old bird. Again, I ask the question: Why don't you move to a city with affordable housing and no rent control where little old ladies who live upstairs can be booted out on the street simply by raising the rent?
Instead, what we get are a slew of ridiculous and somniferous decisions made by Alex and Nancy in an effort to solve their problem. There is something inexplicably off about the tone of director Danny DeVito's film. Perhaps it's rooted in the fact that he seems to gravitate to films centered on the premise of killing children's mascots ("Death to Smoochy") and little old ladies ("Throw Mama from the Train"). The right director can make such a premise funny. DeVito is not that director. Keep out of "Duplex."
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