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Film / Envy

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Envy is a 2004 comedy film directed by Barry Levinson and starring Ben Stiller, Jack Black and Christopher Walken.

Tim Dingman (Stiller) and Nick Vanderpark (Black) are best friends working white-collar jobs. Nick is constantly coming up with crazy ideas to get rich quick. One day, Nick proposes "Vapoorize", a substance that causes dog feces to evaporate, saving people the trouble of having to shovel it. Tim doesn't think it will make any money, so he does not invest. As it happens, it is a huge success, and Nick promptly becomes rich, building a massive mansion right across the street from Tim. Though Nick is more than content to share with Tim, Tim becomes increasingly jealous. He one day encounters mysterious drifter J-Man (Walken) at a bar, who encourages him to ruin Nick's life. This culminates in Tim accidentally killing Nick's horse, Corky. Hilarity Ensues.

This is among the most obscure films that the director and stars alike have ever done, being completed for two years before its 2004 release in an attempt to cash-in on Black's breakthrough role in School of Rock, and going Direct to DVD/almost Direct to DVD in many places. Not much more, as Rotten Tomatoes puts it, than a sustained 99 minute poop joke. At the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, during a press conference for Shark Tale, both Black and DreamWorks SKG' Jeffrey Katzenberg went so far as to publicly apologize for it. Paramount, which released School of Rock, assumed North American rights to Envy upon purchasing DreamWorks in 2006. International rights were held by Columbia Pictures, formerly the primary distributor of films from co-producer Castle Rock Entertainment.

This film provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: After Vapoorize is recalled from market and it results on Nick and Tim no longer being rich, they come up with a new invention: pocket flan. The movie ends with them using an infomercial to advertise it but it's never shown how much they make from that.
  • Big Fancy House: Nick's mansion.
  • Blackmail: When Tim becomes rich, J-Man demands money from him in exchange for not reporting him for killing Nick's horse.
  • One-Word Title: Because of how the emotion drives the story.
  • Self-Made Man: Nick Vanderpark. By investing $ 4,000.00 on Vapoorize, he became wealthy enough to live in a copy of the White House.
  • Toilet Humor: When the premise revolves around an invention designed to handle poo, this trope comes with the territory.