I always try to stay in the theater for the entire duration of a movie. I don't get up in the middle of a movie to go to the bathroom or get more popcorn, because I don't want to miss anything. I didn't leave the theater at all during Envy, but I did miss a few parts because I was too busy banging my head against the chair in front of me. Yeah, it was just that bad, folks. The only viable reasons for seeing this movie would be: 1) It's hot outside and your house doesn't have air conditioning, 2) You need a quiet place to read a book for 99 minutes, because you will probably not hear a peep from anyone, and 3) You're dragged to see it by a film critic who sees everything and loves ripping on bad movies. Sorry, guys, I owe you all a beer for this one... But with those reasons aside, there is no logical reason to see this dreadfully horrible movie.
There is one miniscule thing that I liked about the movie, though. And that is the opening sequences where we see Tim Dingman (Stiller) and Nick Vanderpark (Black), living in suburbia and getting ready for their day of work. This wouldn't normally be that cool, but it's shown to us with this cool, 360 degree camera work that is nicely done. But it only lasts a few minutes, and the badness just keeps snowballing from there.
The movie is about Tim and Nick, who both work at 3M, which stands for Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, the inventors of Scotchguard and a bunch of other stuff. Tim is a good worker, apparently, and so is Nick, but he's a "dreamer" and wants to be an inventor. He concocts a bunch of half-assed schemes that never go anywhere, until he sees a dog taking a crap, and gets an idea for a spray can that makes dog crap dissapear. But this actually works, and he becomes a zillionaire, leaving his best buddy Tim, filled with envy because he didn't go in on this money-making idea with Nick.
Besides the movie being so bad, what really pissed me off is they left out the funniest part of the trailer from the movie. It's where Tim's wife, played by Rachel Weisz, is asking Tim if he would've said "yes" to some common household items, when she gets to the whisk, to which Tim replies, "Honestly, I don't know if I'd say yes to the whisk, but I would've said yes to the light bulb and the spoon." I don't know why they cut this out of the movie, because it would've been the only time I would've heard a laugh, or any other sign of life in the theater.
The acting is attrocious, which isn't really a surprise for Stiller. I'm not an incredibly huge fan of him, because he usually plays the same down-on-his-luck doofus in all of his movies. When he goes outside of this realm, he's actually pretty good (See: Permanent Midnight). But usually, he's pretty bad, and he hits a new low here. But Jack Black's crappy performance did surprise me, right after he proved he can be just great in School of Rock. He goes way WAY over the top most of the time, and it gets very annoying. He does have a few nice, genuine moments, but they are few and far between. He probably gives the best performance here, but that really isn't saying a whole lot. Rachel Weisz, who is usually pretty good, and SNL alum Amy Poehler turn in bad performances as well, as Tim and Nick's wives. But the worst performance is from Christopher Walken, as a bum of some sorts, dubbed The J-Man. Wow. Walken can be a great actor at times, and I love a lot of his work. But he gives an amazingly retarded performance here. It reminded me of Al Pacino's work on Gigli. Good actor + awful script = awful performance. There wasn't much he could've done to give a good performance, along with the rest of the cast, because the script was just so incredibly dumb, so I guess it isn't totally their fault that they give such bad performances. But it just seemed like they didn't even try to give good performances at all.
It didn't surprise me that Envy was written by a first-time scribe, Steve Adams. His only other writing gig was for a TV show called Fridays, and that show's only claim to fame was that Andy Kaufman staged a fight on one episode. Anyway, Adams' script is filled with some God-awful dialogue, a very dull plot, and a very stupid ending. I'm sure if someone asks Mr. Adams at a party what Envy is about, he'll try to give some deep, psychological reasoning about how greed and envy can destroy a person. But the script is so ridiculous that you won't even notice this little theme because this movie will be slowly eradicating your brain. And on top of all that, he doesn't even answer the one question that is posed several times in the movie: where does the poop go? That's the only reason most people will probably stay, just to find out where the poop goes. But you won't get an answer folks. Nothing even close to an answer. It's probably for the best, though, because the reasoning would've probably been as illogical as the idea for a crap-erasing spray in the first place.
It really shocked me to see that Barry Levinson helmed this movie. He has brought us some great movies like Sleepers, Bugsy, The Rain Man and The Natural. Hell, even Bandits was pretty good. This has to be the worst movie of his career. He lets the dialogue go on for what seems like an eternity in some places, and he seems to bring out nothing good in his actors, which is very uncharacteristic of Levinson's earlier works. I'm really surprised that Levinson didn't take his name off of this movie, which would turn it into "An Alan Smithee Film" which is the fictitious "director" whose name gets attatched if the real director wants no part of a movie that was already shot and is ready for release. Let's all hope that we get the old Levinson back with his next project, My Italian Story, which will probably be released sometime next year. But Envy might just turn out to be Levinson's "mulligan" in the movies...
Envy is a movie about how wanting more can turn you into something ugly. But it really is the new low-water mark for Hollywood: an earmark for how bad a script has to be for it to be made into a movie. This is, by far, the worst movie of the year so far. Do I hear the Razzie's calling? Yes, indeed. A friend of mine was going to come to this movie with me, but he decided to sleep more instead. He's the one I envy, after seeing this complete waste of a movie...