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Many comedies try to please by, say, placing the foot of a hoity-toity character in a steaming pile of poo. Envy gets rid of the poo and still expects you to laugh. Vapoorize, a spray that makes dog doody disappear, is the wildly popular invention of Nick Vanderpark (Jack Black) and the cause of jealousy in his best friend, neighbor, and co-worker Tim Dingman (Ben Stiller). When Nick gets rich quick, he builds a huge house in the same neighborhood so he can stay close to his best buddy—which is the only thing director Barry Levinson gets right here: First you see the white horse, then the yellow Lamborghini with the CACA KING license plate, then the carousel, the go-carts, the vineyards, the pitching machine… But rather than focus on the ensuing conflict between Nick and Tim, who have a kind of John Candy–and–Steve Martin–in–Planes, Trains and Automobiles thing going, Levinson brings in a greasy-haired Christopher Walken as “the J-Man,” a drifter in search of a bad Saturday Night Live sketch. When Tim accidentally shoots Nick’s horse (uh, it’s totally different from Starsky & Hutch—he uses an arrow this time), the J-Man concocts a scheme to remove the carcass and get the reward money. All the while, Walken does his best Christopher Walken impression—and though getting him to say, “I ate some of your crackers; we danced in the rain” on an answering machine might be funny, the schtick falls flat on the big screen. Rather than concoct legitimately laugh-worthy situations, scripter Steve Adams and Levinson—who has left a string of unfunny comedies in his wake since Diner and Good Morning, Vietnam—simply throw together a bunch of things that could be funny: doo-neutralizer, Black, Walken, a hippie named Windsong. Then they sit back to enjoy the ride. Thing is, if it doesn’t get funnier, and fast, Levinson’s ride won’t last very much longer. —Josh Levin