Starring: Ben Stiller, Jack Black, Rachel Weisz
Director: Barry Levinson
Running Time: 99 mins
Envy is an American film about a man who becomes incredibly jealous when his buffoonish best friend comes up with an amazing invention that brings him fame and fortune.
This is a pretty poor film. Largely due to its focus on fairly unlikable characters in a rather unpleasant situation, but also due to a generally low standard of comedy and unimpressive writing throughout, Envy just isn’t the movie that you ever want it to be, and as such isn’t much fun to watch at any point throughout.
But before we get into why the film is generally so poor, there are a few small positives to touch on. Firstly, there are a couple of laughs here. As simple and few and far between as they may be, they are definitely there, and with some occasionally good delivery from fantastic comedy actors Ben Stiller and Jack Black, there are at least some moments of proper entertainment here.
Secondly, the performances themselves aren’t too poor. By no means are the actors on top of their game here, and do occasionally feel a little bored with the screenplay, the charisma of Stiller and Black, as well as a strong supporting turn from Rachel Weisz, do make for some for enjoyment throughout. Again, it’s not exceptional, but it’s nothing so awful that you’ll be wanting to turn the screen off immediately.
With that said, the majority of the film is pretty disappointing. What irritated me most was the fact that the story only seems to allow for one real avenue of character development, and it’s not a pariticularly pleasant one. For me, the focus on a man feeling insanely envious at his once best friend for the majority of the movie, and then only really coming round to the good side when the story suddenly demands it, was not an entertaining story at all.
Stiller’s performance is further undone by poor writing that makes his character generally unlikable, and although it’s clear that the story is trying to bring about some black comedy vibes to the movie, they’re really not as strong as they need to be to make an unpleasant story an effective one, making watching Envy a largely unentertaining and forgettable experience.
What’s more is that the screenplay is very lazy with advancing the story along throughout the acts. As juvenile as the comedic writing is, there are times when I can give that a pass, but the fact that the story is so bland, and then completely turns everything on its head based on a few seconds or random decisions, just isn’t what you want to see from a good film, and proving a major issue when it comes the movie’s seeming cop-out of a finale.
Overall, I was very underwhelmed by Envy. Despite strong comedic talent that only shines through in brief moments, the film is a very unpleasant and generally unfunny watch throughout, due to poor and lazy writing that means it’s difficult to be either engaged or simply entertained by the story, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.0.