|Death to Smoochy
|Mr. Typo: ***
Starring Edward Norton, Robin Williams, Catherine Keener, Jon Stewart, Danny DeVito
Rated PG for language and sexual references
Previews (varies by theater): Frailty, Murder by Numbers (Due to multiple blows to the head from a bout of virtual boxing in Newport, I don't remember all of the previews, but I think they were mostly dark and quite dull...)
Well, ladies and gentlemen....the moment you've all been anticipating has arrived. The return of the Typo. Yes, so I've been lodged in my studies for the last few months. But you know, the people at this fine institution don't give me my pittance for nothing.... Okay, enough fanfare.
So, it's been a while since I've seen a movie in the theater. I think the last one involved intense battle scenes, a ring, a candidate for Best Supporting Actor, and a young man with a long road in front of him. And of course, I'm referring to Ali. No, I'm just kidding....like the rest of the world, I didn't see Ali. But that is neither here nor there....
So anyway, Danny Devito brings us another dark comedy (Throw Momma From the Train, anyone? No?) in Death to Smoochy -- is it just me, or do you want to say Death to Schmoopy... I think I've been watching too many Seinfeld reruns. I was a bit skeptical seeing Robin Williams' involvement. I mean, come on...Bicentennial Man? Jakob the Liar? I'm not gonna downplay the man's talents, but for every good scene in "Good Morning Vietnam", there's an equally bad scene....in the same movie. But with Ed Norton, Jon Stewart, Catherine Keener, Devito, and Harvey Fierstein backing him up, I figured I'd give it a shot. Plus it's the end of March. NOTHING comes out at the end of March...
Typo's Patented Basic Plot: After Rainbow Randolph, a children's TV show host (Williams), is fired after a national corruption scandal, KID TV needs a replace-ment. And thus the execs (Stewart and Keener) find Sheldon Mopes (Norton) to fill the spot. Sheldon, better known as the rhino Smoochy, has the squeaky clean image the network needs to redeem itself. And thus a star is born. But not all is well in Smoochy's Happy Jungle -- Rainbow is out for revenge. Once you figure in agents, the Irish mafia, childrens show host groupies, and a boxer that's taken one too many to the noggin (hilariously played by random Italian actor Michael Rispoli) it begins to get a bit thick... What will happen? Will Smoochy be taken in by the greed and corruption that surrounds him? Will Rainbow Rudolph get his time slot back? Should we just give in to the fact that Vincent Schiavelli will play the same exact character in every movie he's in? Oh, the drama!
Quite a few reviewers (including one portly old fool from the Chicago Sun-Times.... ahem) panned this movie, saying that they couldn't identify with a single character. All were "reprehensible" and "immoral". But I really think they couldn't be further from the truth, if I can throw in ONE more hackneyed expression into this review. There was morality, there was redemption....what else are these people looking for? I believe Devito does an incredible job in making such a cartoon plot seem realistic -- the conspiracies thrown around like beads to slutty girls on Mardi Gras (yes, I DID come up with that one myself) bring about an interesting opposite effect. It's almost as if some of this stuff is too crazy NOT to be true. Ah, hell.... you guys know what I mean. I really can't explain it better than that without blowing the plot. But anyway...of course there are some things I didn't like. I felt Jon Stewart was a bit underused -- he was only in a few scenes which seemed way too scripted to let his improv genius flow.
Forget Robin Williams <Typo shaking fist...."Forget him!!"> Edward Norton makes this movie what it is -- hilarious, with heart and a message. Some of the best scenes come from the taping of the Smoochy show -- "It's...a.....ROCKETSHIP!!" And some of the songs are laugh out loud funny..."Your Stepdad's Not Really Mean, He's Just Adjusting." So, if you think Barney is just a guy in a purple turtle suit or the Teletubbies are nothing more than homosexual monkeys, check this one out to get a further appreciation for the inner workings of children's television. As for myself, I'll just stick to avoiding my work with an old classic -- sleeping in.