Adam Resnick, the screenwriter of the bomb “Lucky Numbers,” uses his new film, “Death to Smoochy,” to turn over the body of children’s television, exposing a gruesome, maniacal underbelly torn between money hungry executives, straight and narrow do-gooders and, of course, the insanity of the has-beens.
If you watch the previews of this new dark comedy, it would appears as if Robin Williams, the comic from “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “The Birdcage,” is the star of the film, yet this is misleading. Edward Norton (“Primal Fear”) and Catherine Keener (“Being John Malkovich”) are the actual leads and produce a comedy with an even mix of knee-slapping humor and not-so-funny jokes. The most entertaining part of this duo is Norton’s constant innocence and good nature that gets a little more corrupted with the turn of every corner. Keener goes to find Norton, who plays the actually foamy, kids’ character Smoochy, to replace Williams’s character after he is laid off. The “squeaky clean” Smoochy sings songs like “We’ll Get You Off That Smack, Oh Yes We Will,” to a group of druggies at a rehab clinic when Keener walks in and catapults his career to the top of television ratings.
Along with the sky-rocketing career of Smoochy the Rhino, there is a cataclysmic build in action with Williams, the former star Rainbow Randolph, attempting to ruin the Rhino’s life, while the money-hungry executives deal with the controversy surrounding the new “squeaky clean” star refusing to market to children anything he finds harmful. Harmful products include a soda with “no more than two addictive substances” in it. So with no money coming in from products or marketing and the growing insanity of Rainbow Randolph, Smoochy is suddenly in life threatening situations.
Comedy abounds in this newly directed picture by Danny DeVito, who also stars in the picture as an agent helping the executives of the children’s television station. The innocence of Smoochy and the “educational” songs he sings to children are very amusing. Rainbow Randolph (Williams) perfectly acts the part of a man becoming insane. Although other critics claim he was over-the-top, it is quite the contrary. He brings to this film exactly what it needs. An array of characters stretching from an Irish Mafia family to the family’s now retarded son Spinner and a great part by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart help to make this one of the better dark comedies in long time.
See this movie, knowing the humor is dark and possibly twisted. It certainly earned the R rating, so kids shouldn’t see this, but for the college students who are hopefully going to read this, this movie is for you. With slight fault bringing the grade down some, I still grant this picture a B. Enjoy it. n
Suggestions with Robin Williams: “Dead Poets Society,” “The Birdcage,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Good Morning Vietnam,” “Patch Adams,” “Deconstructing Harry,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Toys,” “The Fisher King,” “Hook,” “Awakenings,” “Popeye”
Suggestions with Edward Norton: “Keeping the Faith,” “American History X,” “Primal Fear,” “Fight Club,” “The Score,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” “Rounders”