A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has a lot of comic violence (as in a cartoon, everyone survives without serious injury), including a gunshot wound. There are some gross-out moments. Characters use strong language and there are non-explicit sexual references and situations.
What's the story?
DUPLEX is a cartoonish black comedy about a young couple driven to financial ruin and finally to plotting murder by their elderly tenant. Alex (Ben Stiller) and Nancy (Drew Barrymore) think they've found their dream house, a spacious duplex in Brooklyn with three fireplaces. At first, their upstairs tenant, Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essel), seems like a sweet old lady with a lilting Irish accent. They also figure that she's so old, she won't be around long. But after they move in, she constantly interrupts Alex, who is trying to finish writing a book, to ask for help or complain about a problem with the apartment. Her television blasts all night at full volume. And she seems to be determinedly healthy.
Is it any good?
As in director Danny DeVito's other comedies, Throw Mama From the Train, The War of the Roses, and Death to Smoochy, the dark humor stems from watching nasty people torture each other. Co-screenwriter Larry Doyle's background writing for cartoons may be the reason this feels like it was written for Sylvester and Tweetie-Pie. Except with less heart.
There are some funny moments as Alex and Nancy helplessly try to set some boundaries but get caught up in yet another excruciating errand for Mrs. Connelly, and when their schemes to get her out of the house backfire. Barrymore is refreshingly without any movie star vanity and seems to relish the chance to look silly. But with no one to root for, it all gets tired quickly, even at less than 90 minutes running time, and the pay-off is not worth the wait.
Talk to your kids about ...
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.