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Fancy a Smooch
Death To Smoochy (DVD)
Member Name: Jojoborne
Death To Smoochy (DVD)
Advantages: Ed Norton. A movie with a difference.
Disadvantages: Not to everyone's taste.
As many of you know, from reading my reviews, I am a massive Edward Norton fan and collect his movies. I can hardly believe that this movie is ten years old already. It seems time flies in Hollywood in a way that is almost parallel to the real world.
Death to Smoochy was made by Warner brothers in 2002 and received a varied mish-mash of comments from the critics. On one hand they slammed it for not being funny enough as surely it was a comedy? On the other they said that the comedy spoiled the inner meaning of the film.
Death to Smoochy is a satirical comedy that is filtered with laughs but has a much darker side and even in its deeper moments shows us that some laughs are very uncomfortable indeed.
The movie stars Edward Norton, Robin Williams, Catherine Keener and Danny DeVito, who also directed it.
There are some laugh out loud parts in the movie but some of the lines are hit and miss. I think this is down to the films writer Adam Resnick who was responsible for some of the poorer shows that he penned for Larry Sanders. Not that Resnick is a bad writer, anything but; I just feel that the comedy element of the film is not its strongest selling point. The film is a lot more intelligent that it gets credit for and under the laughs is a back-handed swipe at how trivial show business and the entertainment world can be.
Ed Norton plays Sheldon Mopes, a children's entertainer. It is Rainbow Randolph however, played by Robin Williams that rules the children's entertainment world, until he decides that he has had enough and sings a song laden with perversity and sick sexual anecdotes and loses his job. Mopes goes on to become very popular in his role as 'Smoochy' the purple rhino. Randolph is not having any of this and what follows is a dark journey into the mind of a man scorned and a man hell bent on revenge. There is only one thing that will sate Randolph's desire for retribution and that is the death of Smootchy.
If you're an Ed Norton fan, or at least familiar with him, then you have to see this movie. It is such a different role for him and he plays it well. Many would think that he just took this one lightly as a fill in for some of his more serious films on a first look at the DVD cover or movie poster, but he did nothing of the kind. Norton even wrote the main song for Smootchy and co-wrote some of the others. His character Mopes is vulnerable and leaves you waiting for him to fight back or to lash out against Randolph. Being at the top or being in the gutter is a fine line in show business and Norton's vulnerability and eventual constitution I this movie is a tribute to man's strength and willingness to fight in the face of adversity.
Robin Williams is an actor who I prefer in a straight acting role to a comedy. A lot of you will say 'What? But he's so funny' and yes he is that's true but he is also an incredible actor (Good Will Hunting, The Fisher King, One Hour Photo, to mention a few) and the beauty of his role in this film is the very fact that his character turns from a children's entertainer into a stalking psychopath. Williams plays his part well. For me personally, when Robin Williams does comedy he can be extremely funny but also way over the top and going off into tangents that no one can really follow or understand and when he acts straight he comes across as a compelling, compassionate man who has the ability to draw empathy and realism into a role.
Some of you may know Catherine Keener from 'Being John Malkovich' and I must say that she seemed well out of place in this movie. Not knocking her as an actress as she is a fine actress but something about her character and her performance in this movie just didn't sit right with me or seem to have any point.
There is a small role in the movie for Pam Ferris, the great English comedy actress from Darling Buds of May fame. At one part in the film she is at a funeral and blurts out the line 'It's a shame this happened. Okay, now let's go pray and get shit-faced.', which was quite funny.
Danny DeVito plays Burke Bennett in his usual role of manager/agent/adviser to the children's entertainment fraternity. It's a role we have all become accustomed to seeing him play. This time however, he was directing the film as well and he did a fine job in my opinion. The shots are rather neat and the photography and sheer size of the wardrobe on the film is quite impressive. David Newman provides us with the music throughout the film and co-wrote some of the songs with Norton.
The standard DVD contains the movie and cast biographies. I own the special edition which contains interviews, making of documentaries, podcasts and blooper reels.All in all this is not a bad little movie and certainly worth a watch. If you're expecting a usual Williams 'Doubtfire' performance then it won't be for you and is definitely not one for the kids. It is strictly an adult movie that can be very close to the edge at times and some of the laughs are cringe-worthy in their blatant disregard for decency.
Norton is great and Williams is too in a movie that was a little different for both of them.It's not one of the greatest movies ever made but is certainly one of the most different, which is refreshing in this world of pointless remakes and made to please Hollywood gumph and it is certainly worth a watch.
Summary: A children's entertainer seeks revenge on a rival