Plot: Tim (Ben Stiller) is not a man who embraces risk, instead he puts in the hard work and is a reliable employee, who hopes his dedication will be rewarded at some point by his bosses. While he has found a rhythm in his work, his best friend Nick (Jack Black) struggles as part of the rat race and is always coming up with get rich quick ideas, none of which ever pan out. So when he tells Tim about his latest project, a spray that makes dog poop vanish, despite an offer to bring Tim on board for half the company, the risk averse friend declines. But when the idea becomes reality and Nick rides the success to countless millions of dollars, Tim tries to be happy for his friend, then finds himself growing envious of the rapid track to wealth. Can Tim get over his jealousy and be the friend Nick needs in the midst of his meteoric rise, or will the envy prove to be too much for him to handle?
Entertainment Value: Envy has the dubious distinction of being a movie that several prominent cast and crew members have apologized for being part of, not a ringing endorsement, to say the least. While this is no comedy classic, it is far from the worst movie of this kind and manages to elicit a few laughs, thanks mostly to the colorful cast involved. The script doesn’t have much of a premise and runs thin, as it feels like a sitcom plot stretched to feature length. This leads to a lot of filler scenes and drawn out stretches, without much in terms of jokes thrown in. At least come up with some kind of mild humor to make the filler seem less like filler, but instead the movie seems to hope the presence of Stiller and Black will be enough. That’s not to say that Envy doesn’t have some laughs, as some of the humor works well, I just wish it was more frequent and consistent. As it stands however, the movie has a lot more misses than hits, so it is easy to see why those involved have distanced themselves.
The cast is the highlight of Envy, as even if they can’t do a lot with the material, they do wring some laughs of the mediocre script. Jack Black is less manic than usual, with just flashes of his outlandish persona on showcase, while Ben Stiller plays a role familiar to many of his other characters. The two show decent chemistry, but with Stiller in more of a straight man role, you’d think Black would dial up the mayhem a little, but he keeps things mostly reeled in. As a result, neither performance works that well and while they provide some laughs, it seems like wasted potential here. Christopher Walken doesn’t tone his crazier side however, in an eccentric role that lets him go a little wild and he steals a lot of scenes. His interactions with Stiller are some of Envy’s funniest scenes, so it is a shame his role isn’t more prominent. The cast also includes Rachel Weisz, Amy Poehler, and Sam Lerner.