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Death to Smoochy (2002)

  Directed by: Danny DeVito
Starring: Catherine Keener, Edward Norton, Robin Williams
Links: Death to Smoochy on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 7.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

Death to Smoochy (2002) is also mentioned in pearly's review of The Italian Job (2003).

"Death to half the scripty" - a review by pearly

Death to Smoochy looked like the kind of movie that could have been really fabulous. Edward Norton dressed in a giant pink rhinocerous suit - how can you go wrong? It joins the list of films that were deemed unworthy of a cinematic release in Australia - despite the presence of Norton, mega-hairy-comedian Robin Williams, and director Danny DeVito.

Williams plays "Rainbow" Randolph, a popular kid's TV show presenter with a huge personality. When he is caught accepting bribes, he is sacked, and wholesome Sheldon Mopes (Norton), with his Smoochy the Rhino character, is hired in his place. Sheldon is a vegan with very strong morals, and the TV execs hire him because they can't afford another scandal. But Rainbow Randolph ain't happy, and he vows "Death to Smoochy".

One of the most interesting aspects of Death to Smoochy is the theme of commercialism versus the educational value of kid's TV. Rainbow is in this thing for the money and fame, and he doesn't care how many shonky products his name is attached to, but when Sheldon takes the stage, he's telling the kiddies the number to call if an adult abuses them, or to eat up all their vegetables. Unfortunately, while this theme could have made for a thought-provoking movie, the script fell into the trap it was trying to tell others to avoid: by adding too many bells and whistles, it strayed too much from the message it was trying to convey.

I think there's too much of a tendency for movie-makers to assume that an audience can't handle a movie unless it's jam packed with action, comedy, and Robin Williams raving on and on. This is probably true, to a certain extent, but there is most definitely a delicate blend required, and that mark isn't hit with Death to Smoochy. The script quite simply gets too outrageous.

Norton does well with Sheldon - he's very believable, as is Catherine Keener. And Williams is just Williams; he's crude and over-the-top, and you either love him or hate him. DeVito plays Sheldon's smarmy manager, as well as directing, and brings life to this evil little man with unsurprising ease.

I enjoyed Death to Smoochy enough to recommend it, especially if the themes sound interesting to you. But be prepared to be cutting through a fair bit of nonsense to get to the meaty story hidden within.

pearly gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Wed 19 Feb 2003

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