Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Death to Smoochy (2002) Film Review

Plot Summary - Black comedy about a popular NYC kiddie show host "Rainbow Randolph" (Robin Williams) who lacks morals and gets busted for taking bribes. The TV network decides to replace him with a new host, recruiting Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton), local who performs weekly gigs at a Coney Island meth clinic dressed up as a big fuchsia-colored Rhinoceros. Mopes is a squeaky-clean, sorta geeky good guy and health nut who lives by a strong moral code - just what they're looking for. Soon his new show, "Smoochy the Rhino", is a TV hit. But - Rainbow "Randy" Randolph goes nutcase with jealousy and decides to try and get his old "time slot" back, seeking vengeance on Smoochy. He plants penis-shaped cookies in a "cookie time" show bag, opened up in front of all the kiddies - he tricks Smoochy into performing at an event that turns out to be a big Nazi rally. Everything backfires and soon Smoochy has an agent (Danny DeVito) and is head of his own production, which comes with a price. Gangsters are strong-arming him to do this big ice show and skim part of the profits for themselves. Smoochy wants to do things his way - and give to charities. Soon both Randy and the gangsters and even his own agent are out to kill poor Smoochy.

Review - This is a fairly interesting film, brightly colored with lots of overhead and slanted camera angles and extreme facial closeups. Throw in a mix of Williams and Norton performing cute kiddie songs that teach a lesson, some singing/dancing little people (sort of like little brightly colored Oompa Loompas), a famous ex-boxer who's punch drunk and wants a part on the show, some Irish mobsters, and a kiddie show on ice - yeah, it's a bit strange. Robin Williams is a bit hyper, as usual - the love interest in this, played by Catherine Keener, seems kind of thrown in. I watched this one basically to see crush/cutie Edward Norton (I needed another "Norton fix" after seeing The Incredible Hulk last week) - I've now seen all of his films available on DVD but one ("The Italian Job"). I'm usually not a fan of black comedies, so wasn't expecting too much from this - but I did find it to be reasonably good. Rating - 6 to 7/10 stars

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