In terms of living the American Dream, Alex and Nancy have it pretty good. They are a young, vibrant couple in New York City with bright futures ahead of them. But one thing is missing: a home of their own. When they find one, it comes with one feature they didn't expect--an upstairs tenant, Mrs. Connelly, who lives in a rent-controlled apartment, and who isn't quite as easy-going or frail as Alex and Nancy originally anticipated. As their blissful life begins to seriously fray around the edges, their dream home rapidly turns into a nightmare and they decide that they must get Mrs. Connelly out of their lives.
Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore play Alex and Nancy, a young couple whose dreams of finding real estate bliss in Brooklyn are complicated by their tenant, an ancient woman (Eileen Essell) who annoys them almost to the point of homicide. Danny DeVito's comedies have often explored the murderous rage that lurks within the hearts of otherwise civilized people, and this one, sharply written by Larry Doyle, turns Alex and Nancy's predicament into a double-edged satire of gentrification, yuppie entitlement and New York real estate obsession. The old lady, while monstrously manipulative and stubborn, might also represent an indomitable urban life force resisting the forces of gentrification. — A. O. Scott
2003-09-26 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of Duplex