8 May 2004 | Victor Field
Drew Barrymore's biggest blunder since she said "I do" to Tom Green.
For the UK, Miramax changed the title of "Duplex" to "Our House" because the term is about as widely known in Britain as Madness is in America (thankfully the song of the same (British) title that the group did wasn't stuck on the UK prints); the thing is, it's actually the movie that needs changing. I love Drew Barrymore to death, but even she can't make this black comedy any better; uncharacteristically weak, neither she nor Ben Stiller nor any of the other cast members inexplicably involved with this clumsy farce (Harvey Fierstein, Eileen Eissel, James Remar, etc) make it a worthwhile addition to Danny DeVito's directorial CV - which is thematically similar to his "Throw Momma From The Train," except that was actually funny.
Some would argue that Larry Doyle's script was on a hiding to nothing when it posited that our heroes (a mid-level author and his designer girlfriend) would be the landlords of a duplex apartment with the only other tenant being a 90-plus Irish woman who can't be removed legally, but the woman succeeds in getting us to hate her as much as the couple does. But as well as making you wonder why they don't try to kill her sooner than they do, "Duplex" also goes too far in every direction from slapstick to plotting - the movie becomes less funny and more unbelievable as it progresses, with plot points telegraphed so far in advance they may as well have been written on the poster, and a final scene that's particularly hard not to foresee.
I'd be lying if I said there weren't a few laughs to be had (and I agree with the guy who pointed out Drew's appearance in a see-through shirt at one point), but all in all "Duplex" comes across as a bad TV movie that somehow got upgraded to a cinema feature; every time the Irish woman's TV started showing "Hawaii Five-O," I begged to be watching that instead. I'm not sure whether the lowpoint is
a) The scene with the doctor grabbing Ben Stiller's crotch after he's been shot in it (don't ask) and the soundtrack popping up with "Sexual Healing", or
b) The sight of Drew Barrymore vomiting down a drain on Ben Stiller's face (really, don't ask).
But I am sure that with "Titan A.E." Drew had the safety net of not actually being on screen.