Movies 

A case of Envy

Envy (noun) — The resentful or unhappy feeling of wanting somebody else’s success, talent, good fortune, or possessions.

Pretty much everyone has felt or dealt with envy. Whether it’s being jealous of the guy with the super hot girlfriend, or of the roommate who uses a credit card for everything yet never gets a bill. Envy and jealousy is deeply rooted in human nature, we want what we don’t have. It sucks, believe me I know, but there’s no denying envy is everywhere. This week envy has even reared its ugly head down in the Village 8 theatres.

Envy, the latest film from Barry Levinson ( Diner, Rain Man) , stars Jack Black and Ben Stiller as two working-class buddies living the rough, blue-collar lifestyle. Hoping for instant success, Jack Black has yet another great invention idea: develop a spray that vapourizes dog poo, just vanishes it into nothingness. He offers Stiller a chance to get in on the idea and help develop it. But Stiller declines, figuring it is just another crazy scheme that won’t work. It does, however, and Black becomes a multi-millionaire, choosing to build a huge mansion where his old house used to be. Not to rub neighbour Ben’s nose in his success, but because he wants stay close to his buddy.

Of course, Ben Stiller, again sticking to his usual character type, becomes very bitter and envious. He decides to get drunk and ends up meeting a trickster/drifter type who convinces him to get even. And there the fun begins. While director Levinson has made some flops in the past ( Jimmy Hollywood) he’s been in the game for a long time and after the recent comedic success of Jack Black ( School of Rock) and Stiller ( Starsky and Hutch) he can’t really go too wrong here. Envy is a horrible, destructive thing but team it up with dog shit and a dead horse, and it makes for a pretty decent movie.

Also pretty decent, in my professional opinion, is any movie about high school girls getting catty with each other. Think Heathers (Christian Slater rules) or Jawbreaker or the new Lindsay Lohan picture Mean Girls , opening today. Mean Girls is a pretty clever movie satirically paralleling the behaviour of wild jungle animals with today’s high school social structure. Lohan plays Cady, a 16-year-old girl home-schooled by her zoologist parents in Africa who suddenly must attend high school in Chicago. Every high school, or at least every high school movie, has solid stereotypical cliques. Mean Girls is no different, although it does inject a bit of realism and character into its stereotypes. The arty outsider types Lohan first befriends are fleshed out characters, but due to that fact she’s innocent AND hot Cady is soon lured into hanging with the "Plastics"; the coolest, most beautiful, girls in school. Originally a spy for the outcasts, living popular soon takes its toll on sweet, naïve Cady and before long she’s playing the game herself and competing for dominance, much like a lioness back in Africa.

Mean Girls , while darkly satirical, doesn’t quite push things as far as the classic Heathers but it is funny, believable, and doesn’t preach too, too much. Lohan’s acting is solid and the script, by Saturday Night Live comedienne Tina Fey, confronts issues of image and self-worth subtly yet realistically. If I were a 13-year-old girl, I’d probably see this twice, just to make my friends jealous. Actually, I’d only see it once and lie about the second time.

Also opening this week is The Laws of Attraction starring Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan. It’s about two successful divorce layers who battle in court (i.e. foreplay) have dinner together, get drunk and screw. Then they get drunk again and end up married. Since they’re arguing opposite ends of a high-profile divorce case this poses a bit of a problem and they’re forced to carry on the charade marriage or lose their jobs. Moore is one hell of a great actress but she doesn’t fit this role well and the chemistry between her and James Bond never really works.

A better divorce lawyer/comedy/ love story is Intolerable Cruelty , the Coen brothers’ movie where George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones show us how on-screen chemistry is supposed to look. Intolerable Cruelty would be the DVD of the week but I promised my friend Susi that Home Alone 3 would be. So Home Alone 3 is the DVD of the week. It sucks. I haven’t seen it but I know it sucks.

At Village 8 April 30-May 6: Godsend, Mean Girls, Envy, Laws of Attraction, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Touching the Void, Scooby Doo 2, Connie and Carla, 13 Going on 30, Man on Fire.

At Rainbow Theatre April 30-May 6: Starsky and Hutch, Dawn of the Dead.

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