Duplex (film)

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For the 2015 film, see The Duplex (film).
Duplex film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Danny DeVito
Produced by Drew Barrymore
Stuart Cornfeld
Larry Doyle
Nancy Juvonen
Jeremy Kramer
Ben Stiller
Written by Larry Doyle
Starring Ben Stiller
Drew Barrymore
Eileen Essell
Narrated by Danny DeVito
Music by David Newman
Cinematography Anastas Michos
Edited by Greg Hayden
Lynzee Klingman
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • September 26, 2003 (2003-09-26)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million
Box office $19,322,135

Duplex is a 2003 American comedy film directed by Danny DeVito, and starring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore.

The film was called Our House for its release in the United Kingdom and Ireland.[1]


Alex Rose (Ben Stiller) and Nancy Kendricks (Drew Barrymore) are a young, professional, New York couple in search of their dream home. When they finally find the perfect Brooklyn brownstone they are giddy with anticipation. The duplex is a dream come true, complete with multiple fireplaces, except for one thing: Mrs. Connelly (Eileen Essell), the old lady who lives on the rent-controlled top floor. Assuming she is elderly and ill, they take the apartment.

However, they soon realize that Mrs. Connelly is in fact an energetic senior who enjoys watching her television at top volume day and night and rehearsing in a brass band. As a writer, Alex is attempting to finish his novel against a looming deadline. However, he is interrupted daily by Mrs. Connelly's numerous demands and requests, and what begins as a nuisance quickly escalates into an all-out war. Alex and Nancy try to get Mrs. Connelly to move out, but she refuses. Next, they try to file a noise complaint against her, but discover that she has already gone to the police first and filed a harassing complaint against them. Mrs. Connelly soon turns all of Alex and Nancy's friends against them by play-acting as the "poor, innocent, old lady" and makes it appear that the young couple are out to harm her.

When Nancy loses her job and Alex misses his deadline (all because of the old lady's antics) the pair are trapped at home together with Mrs. Connelly with no place to go. Their rage turns to homicidal fantasy as they plot ways to get rid of their manipulative, no-good neighbor. After peace overtunes and a break-in lead to nothing, Alex and Nancy decide to hire a hitman, named Chick (James Remar), to kill her. However, his asking price for doing the hit is $25,000. Unable to initially come up with the money, Alex approaches his friend and fellow writer, Coop, to ask for a loan, but is rudely rebuffed. Desperate and needing the money in two days, they sell almost every possession they own to pay Chick who will do the hit on Christmas Eve. Chick does break into Mrs. Connelly apartment as planned, but fails to kill her when she defends herself with her speargun by shooting him in the shoulder, and the couple in fact have to rescue the old woman when the struggle results in a fire in her apartment.

Accepting defeat, Alex and Nancy decide to evict themselves, but find out that the old woman has died right when they leave. Alex and Nancy, now with no jobs, friends, or money left, move far away from New York where they contemplate their strange encounters. But here the audience learns in a climatic plot twist that the realtor of the duplex, Kenneth (Harvey Fierstein) (revealed to be Mrs. Connelly's son) and the ill-tempered NYPD Officer Dan (Robert Wisdom) (Kenneth's gay lover) who had frequently harassed and distrusted the couple and always sided with Mrs. Connelly in her arguments with Alex and Nancy, and Mrs. Connelly herself (who is not in fact dead) have been doing this to others. The unethical trio have been running a mean-spirited, real-estate scam for several years: Kenneth sells the ground floor apartment only to good-natured young couples, then Mrs. Connelly, aided by the corrupt Officer Dan, harasses and destroys the young couple's lives, eventually forcing them to move out, and then faking Mrs. Connelly's own death so that the couple will never return and leaving Mrs. Connelly, Kenneth and Dan to collect and live off of the sales commission from the next occupants that buy the ground floor apartment. Alex and Nancy were Mrs. Connelly and her son's latest victims among so many.

At the conclusion, Alex and Nancy relocate to the Bronx, and it is revealed that Alex (who never finds out about the scam) used his experience as inspiration for his next book, titled "Duplex", which became a best-selling novel, thus giving the film a semi-happy ending.



The film opened to negative reviews, with many feeling this was not DeVito's best. The film has a 50 on Metacritic, and a 35% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[2][3] Barrymore earned a Golden Raspberry Award nomination for Worst Actress for her performances in both Duplex and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, but lost to Jennifer Lopez for Gigli.

On a US $40 million budget, it only grossed US $9,692,135 in the US and the equivalent of $US 19,322,135 worldwide.[4]


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