Death To Smoochy
Death To Smoochy
is the kind of movie that geeks judge others with. Five or more years
from now, when this movie finds its audience on video, geeks will assassinate
character with phrases like, "Yeah, she's seems cool, but she didn't
like Death To Smoochy." If this doesn't make sense to you, then
one wonders how you ended up at a site called FanboyPlanet.com.
Danny DeVito earned
his dark comedy directing license after The War Of The Roses,
and continued to exercise it with the brilliant Throw Mama From the
Train and the awesome Matilda. With Death To Smoochy,
DeVito proves he's still got his touch and even can overcome problems
that have sunk similar films.
Set in the cutthroat
world of live-action children's television, Death To Smoochy
starts with beloved host Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) taking cash
in an FBI payola sting. The ensuing media frenzy puts Randolph on the
street and leaves an open time slot in Kidnet's programming that network
execs Nora Wells (Catherine Keener) and M. Frank Stokes (Jon Stewart)
need to patch.
They find said
patch playing his own uplifting folk music at a methadone clinic, wearing
a purple rhinoceros suit and the unlikely name of Smoochy (Edward Norton).
Smoochy sees children's programming as the perfect platform to spread
his painfully chipper neo-Hippie message. While the innocent Smoochy
attempts to navigate through the jungle of crooked charities, merchandizing
schemes and even the Irish mafia, Randolph seethes and plans his revenge.
change the world, but you can make a dent."
The trailers sell
Death To Smoochy as a dark revenge comedy, but it is in fact
a dark rags-to-riches show business comedy - one of the many pitfalls
of show business being a vengeful has-been. The story belongs to Edward
Norton who, while one of the best young actors working today, doesn't
put butts in seat like Mork and thusly takes second billing.
Norton plays Smoochy
(and his "secret identity," Sheldon Mopes) with the wide-eyed new-agey
goofiness that Woody Harrelson probably demonstrated while out of character
on The People vs. Larry Flint. Even when singing the classic-in-waiting
"My Stepfather's Not Bad (He's Just Adjusting)," Norton's passion in
and out of the Smoochy suit borders on the same insanity that leads
Randolph to seek revenge.
down the last of the purple rhinos, but the feast was magnificent.
The picture itself
works for the most part. There are some lulls, but when a script comes
from the man that brought us Cabin Boy (Adam Resnick), so few
lulls show that no one should be completely written off, regardless
of how egregious their cinematic crime. Williams's energy works nicely
for most of the movie, or at least better than fellow manic comic Jim
Carrey's did in the equally dark The Cable Guy. At first Williams
tries to play the character dark but as the story progresses Williams
allows the subject matter to darken his comedic character.
One of the film's
strongest aspects is the reality it creates. While not as insanely over-the-top
as the clown-based town of Shakes The Clown, the world of Death
To Smoochy revolves solely around children's entertainment and the
ancillary income on which it is based. Finally, someone has ripped into
the lame spectacle that is the children's ice show. Now if only someone
will trash Cirque Du Soleil and Blue Man Group we can truly rest easy.
How DARE you mention
As far as flaws
go, the performances are all solid, but strangely mismatched. Some of
the characters are more cartoony than others. Some characters don't
mix well with others in some scenes, but alone each of the characters
is hilarious. Any movie that features a Broadway-geek dwarf, a near-retarded
ex-boxer, and the funniest use of a Nazi Rally since The Blues Brothers
deserves more attention than the public will probably give it.
should be made of Pam Ferris who plays Irish Mob leader Tommy Cotter
with a charming Irish lilt and a lust for street justice. She steals
every scene she's in, just as she did as the Trunchbull in Matilda.
performances from both the leads and the supporting cast, a decent script,
and solid comedic direction, Death To Smoochy packs plenty of
entertainment even with its flaws. So if this picture interests you
go check it out, but don't hold it against those who might not understand.
Just accept their shortcomings and calmly try to explain.
What's It Worth?