Making the Grades
Success is good. But it can be hard to swallow when it comes to someone else, particularly if that someone else happens to be your best friend. Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller) understands the challenge all too well.
For much of his life, he and his wife have lived across the street from their best friends Nick (Jack Black) and Natalie (Amy Poehler) Vanderpark. Carpooling to work, the two blue-collar breadwinners also sit next to each other at their kids' school functions and meet for family outings. Despite a few minor personality differences, their friendship is solid.
Then Nick, the laidback dreamer, comes up with a hair-brained idea for getting rid of doggy doo-doo. The ?Vapoorizer? is an aerosol spray that quickly disintegrates the unsightly mess and makes it disappear into thin air.
Scoffing at the concept, Tim refuses to put down any cash when Nick offers him and Debbie (Rachel Weisz) a chance to get in on the scheme. Later his curt remarks and lack of faith come back to haunt him when the idea works and Nick and Natalie become instant millionaires. While money has a way of changing most people, this fabulously wealthy inventor decides to build a new house in the middle-class neighborhood so he can stay near his friend.
Now every morning as the covetous Tim leaves for the factory, he looks out his modest front door at the mansion across the street. Hard as that is, things only get worse after Tim accidentally kills Nick's prized pony and is left choking on envy and guilt.
Tim discovers, if the ugly green monster isn't kept in check, envy's effect on friendship can be costly. Although the generous and benevolent Nick remains relatively unscathed by the unexpected influx of money, not everyone else reacts so benignly. In a local bar, a drunken and disgruntled Tim meets a longhaired, eccentric drifter (Christopher Walken) who agrees to help the unhappy have-not dispose of the dead horse in the hopes of getting his hands on some of Nick's cash.
Learning to value friendship more than the depth of a bank account is a worthy message but parents will want to consider the language content before packing up their older kids for this film. The excessive use of a crude slang word for doggie droppings, some sexual innuendo, and discussions of male anatomy may be enough to steer families clear of this comedy.
This film succeeds well in taking a humorous look at how dealing with success can be a challenge, but for some, dealing with the lack of success can be even more of a test especially if it's tinged with Envy.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Envy.
Does Nicks basic personality change when he becomes wealthy? How about his treatment of Tim? How does gratitude play into Nick and Natalies attitude about money?
What things contributed to Tims jealousy? How did if effect his relationships at home and his attitude about his own possessions?
Besides money, what other things might make a person envious?