Envy (2004 film)

Envy is a 2004 American dark comedy film directed by Barry Levinson. It stars Ben Stiller and Jack Black. The film was a critical and commercial failure.

Envy film poster.jpg
North American theatrical release poster
Directed byBarry Levinson
Written bySteve Adams
Produced byBarry Levinson
Paula Weinstein
Larry David
CinematographyTim Maurice-Jones
Edited byStu Linder
Blair Daily
Music byMark Mothersbaugh
Columbia Pictures
Castle Rock Entertainment
Baltimore/Spring Creek Pictures
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures (United States)
Columbia TriStar Distributors International[1] (International)
Release date
  • April 30, 2004 (2004-04-30)
Running time
99 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20-$40 million[2][3]
Box office$14,581,765[3]


Tim Dingman and Nick Vanderpark are best friends, neighbors and co-workers at 3M. Nick is constantly coming up with crazy ideas to get rich quick, and when he invents Vapoorize, a spray that instantly disintegrates dog feces, he actually succeeds. As Nick's wealth continues to grow, so does Tim's envy, as he had initially scoffed at the idea and squandered an opportunity to invest and become mega-rich himself. Nick is blissfully unaware of Tim's envy, and his generosity only serves to make Tim more envious of him. Meanwhile, Nick's wife Natalie decides to run for state senate but is continually plagued by questions about her husband's product.

After Tim's wife Debbie and children temporarily leave and he is fired from 3M, Tim's envy reaches new levels. In a bar, he meets J-Man, a bizarre drifter, who lends a sympathetic ear and offers advice. After a drunken night out, Tim accidentally shoots Nick's beloved horse, Corky, with a bow and arrow, apparently killing him, and buries the horse in his abandoned swimming pool.

Nick offers a $50,000 reward for the return of his horse. J-Man and Tim concoct a plan whereby J-Man would discover the horse and claim the reward, splitting the proceeds. However a series of unfortunate events, including Tim's family getting holed up in J-Man's mountain cabin, leads to the horse's carcass being lost in a rain storm.

Nick reveals to Tim that he is going to Rome for the debut of Vapoorize there, and gives Tim the opportunity to join him in a 50-50 partnership, which he accepts. J-Man finds out that Tim is now rich, and, feeling betrayed, tries to blackmail him. After confessing to his wife, now enjoying her rich lifestyle, Tim agrees to pay J-Man; however, J-Man ups his demands and asks to be Tim's partner. Tim accidentally shoots him in the back with an arrow and J-Man, believing that Tim has tried to kill him, backs down in fear.

Tim eventually confesses all to Nick who forgives him for his jealousy and agrees to continue with the partnership; however, at a press conference for Natalie's electoral campaign (where she promises to withdraw her candidacy if it is proven Vapoorize is harmful to the environment in any way), Corky's body is seen floating down the nearby river. The animal's post-mortem reveals that the horse was not killed by the arrow as previously thought but actually poisoned by a by-product of Vapoorize, used by Tim to treat his garden after Corky came to eat the apples from his tree. The veterinarian informs the pair that she is obliged to notify the Environmental Protection Agency, and Vapoorize is immediately pulled from the market. Nick and Tim almost lose all their wealth and glory, until Tim comes up with an invention of his own: Pocket Flan, inspired by Nick's family's love for the dessert. J-Man is shown in the audience of Tim and Nick's infomercial for Pocket Flan, apparently reconciled.



Envy received generally negative reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 8% based on 118 reviews with an average rating of 3.11/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Jack Black and Ben Stiller fail to wring laughs from a script that's essentially one extended poop joke."[4] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 31 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[5] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "D" on an A+ to F scale.[6]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2 out of 4 stars. He said "the movie is funny, yes, but not really funny enough."[7] Variety's Robert Koehler wrote that the film "can't decide whether to be an eccentric black comedy or a middle-of-the-road diversion" and "Levinson's desire to provoke extreme laughs isn't matched by a strategy of how to get to the edge -- especially when the edge is some distance from his trusty Baltimore storytelling roots."[8]

Stella Papamichael of BBC said that "Envy is all about flogging a dead horse",[9] while Nick Schager of Slant Magazine stated regarding a scene in a film: "[a] canary-yellow Lamborghini's license plate reads "Caca King" in Envy, nicely summing up this dreadful money-versus-friendship comedy".[10]

According to Time Out "Had School of Rock not made Jack Black so bankable, this comedy would surely have gone straight to video – which is where it belongs".[11]

The film was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Stiller), but lost to Fahrenheit 9/11 (George W. Bush).


  1. ^ "Envy (2003)". British Film Institute. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  2. ^ "Envy (2004)". The Numbers. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Envy (2004)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  4. ^ "Envy (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  5. ^ "Envy Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  6. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on February 6, 2018.
  7. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 30, 2004). "Envy movie review & film summary (2004)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  8. ^ Koehler, Robert (April 30, 2004). "Envy". Variety.
  9. ^ Papamichael, Stella (September 6, 2004). "Envy (2004)". BBC. Retrieved July 14, 2021.
  10. ^ "Film Review: Envy". Slant Magazine. April 29, 2004.
  11. ^ "Envy". Time Out. Time Out Group.

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