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Death To Smoochy (2002)

Death To Smoochy
American History ABC

Starring:

Robin Williams
Katherine Keener
Edward Norton

Released By:

Warner Bros

Released In:

2002

Rated:

R

Reviewed By:

Adam Mast

Grade:

D

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Sometimes all the talent in the world can't make for a good movie. Case in point, Danny DeVito's meandering kiddy show satire, Death to Smoochy. In this dark, mean spirited comedy, Robin Williams plays wildly popular children's show host Rainbow Randolph, a colorful character who looses his job after a nasty little scandal. Anxious to move on, the network responsible for Rainbow Randolph dig up an up and coming potential known as Smoochy the rhino (played by Edward Norton). Smoochy (aka Sheldon Mopes) really lives for entertaining and teaching the children of the world, and is a bit stunned when he discovers that the suits are more interested in money. As the story unfolds, Mopes meets an odd assortment of characters, and is constantly stalked by a vengeful Rainbow Randolph.

Robin Williams has flashes of humor but is more annoying than anything else. Most of his comical bits are done in various accents and the whole act becomes quite tiresome. Edward Norton gives more depth to Mopes than the character actually deserves. He's likable and his persona is both quirky and sincere. There are some strong bit parts as well but I still have a hard time getting into co-star Catherine Keener who appears as a cold TV. executive who's sudden attraction to Mopes is both out of place and completely unbelievable.

Death to Smoochy was directed by Danny DeVito and while the movie does offer some funny moments, there are very few to speak of. He does have a great eye and much of this film is colorful, but it's intentional over the top execution hurt it in the long run. Death to Smoochy seems to have very little focus, introducing us to a plethora of seemingly unnecessary subplots.

Adam Resnick's screenplay tries for satire but rarely works. Many of the jokes here are stale, and some lines are just way too off color, including a doozy about Richard Pryor. While there is an interesting premise in Death to Smoochy, it's buried somewhere deep within this tedious slice of excess.

There is no doubt that DeVito is a major talent. I thought Throw Momma From the Train was immensely entertaining and Hoffa was even better. And if you want to see the funny man turned director at his ever loving mean spirited best, check out his best film, the spectacularly cruel War of the Roses. That movie was darker than hell, but hilarious. Death to Smoochy is dark, but rarely funny. It's a mess of a movie, that ultimately wastes a heap load of major talent.

:: zBoneman.com Reader Comments ::

John Wilkinson

John Wilkinson

What sort of voodoo does Danny DeVito possess to keep getting such talented actors to take part in these dark, nasty totally unfunny comedies he's been directing lately. I never saw Throw Mama From the Train, but I have to imagine it must have been pretty damn good for DeVito to continue to make these mean-spirited disasters. Robin Williams and Ed Norton? Don't get me started on Duplex, I can't believe that he can still be coasting on the success of War of the Roses that's been 15 years ago?

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