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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20.22%
Worth A Look43.82%
Average: 8.99%
Pretty Bad: 7.87%
Total Crap: 19.1%

5 reviews, 59 user ratings

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Death to Smoochy
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by Scott Weinberg

"Loud, crude, garish, sick, raunchy and silly. I had a ball."
4 stars

Sometime in the early 90's, world-famous comedian Robin Williams was secretly devoured by a pie-eyed, schmaltz-addicted buffoon. Over the last ten years, this evil creature has subjected the world to monumental movie garbage like Patch Adams and Jack and Flubber. To those who've been patiently wallowing through the treacle waiting for the formerly brilliant comedian to one day return...I have some good news.

Gauging how much you still admire the "comic" Robin Williams would be an accurate way to decide if Death to Smoochy is for you. (A strong tolerance for mean-spirited and bleak humor is also recommended.) If you still hold fond memories of the manic performer in movies like Baron Munchausen, The Survivors and Good Morning Vietnam, then Death to Smoochy is sure to hit you in the right spot. Simply put, the guy is funnier here than he's been in ten years.

Williams plays Rainbow Randolph, a sickeningly gleeful kid's show host while at work - and a devious crook in his spare time. After being publicly disgraced in a bribery scandal, Randolph is unceremoniously dumped by the TV studio, and the executives must scramble to find a new replacement.

Producers Frank and Nora come up with Sheldon Mopes, an affable schlub who sings kiddie songs down at the local methadone clinic while dressed as a giant rhino named Smoochy. The character is given a makeover, delivered to an enthusiastic home audience, and Sheldon's creation is an overnight success. The innocent yet strongly principled Mopes must now contend with Nora's bullying, a two-faced agent named Burke, an intimidating crew of Irish mobsters, and the mysterious producer/puppetmaster Merv Green. Oh, and let's not forget about poor Rainbow Randolph, now bitterly dejected and insanely jealous of Smoochy's newfound popularity, who promptly sets out to devise various Anti-Smoochy campaigns.

It may be a valid complaint to mention that a satire of "Barney"-type TV shows would have perhaps been more timely a few years ago. To that, one could simply reply better late than never. Although DeVito and screenwriter Adam Resnick occasionally bite off a little more than they can chew, Death to Smoochy is one of those rare comedies where "going too far" proves to be infinitely more entertaining than the alternative.

It's clear that the dark humor and over-the-top performance by Robin Williams may be off-putting to some moviegoers, but I found both to be a breath of fresh air in the generally stagnant realm of Studio Comedies. Not every gag hits the mark, but the ones that deliver do so with a satisfying bang. William's maniacally profane presence was especially refreshing, as I could feel each of his previous cornpone performances wash away under a torrent of F-bombs and spittle showers.

The rest of the colorful cast acquit themselves in two distinct categories:

The very funny:

Edward Norton underplays the aw-shucks decency of Mopes to an almost sarcastic degree, and the few scenes he shares with Williams (particularly one inside a limo) are priceless. Those under the impression that Norton is "all drama" are in for an enjoyable surprise.

Catherine Keener steals about a half-dozen scenes as the cranky cold-fish Nora Wells. If you're familiar with her work, you're probably thinking "So what else is new?" Keener's charming arrogance and "bitchy older sister" attitude is on full display here. That's always a good thing.

The funny people in woefully underwritten roles:

Why would you cast Jon Stewart as an arrogant TV exec and then give him nothing funny to do? This underrated comic has enjoyed nothing but fitful bit parts in several movies, and I look forward to his first shot at center stage. (Aside from the fantastic Daily Show, that is.)

Danny DeVito (perhaps a bit more concerned with actually directing this insanity) offers not a whole lot as the duplicitous talent agent. It's always cool to see Danny DeVito show up; he's just not given any of the better gags this time around.

"Black comedy" is always a dicey proposition, but for every gag that fizzles (the Irish mobsters and their idiot nephew, for instance), there's another bit that absolutely sings. Death to Smoochy works a wicked black comedy, a clever (albeit not brilliant) satire on the easy target of kiddie commercialism, and a dizzy little sitcom rolled into one. (Chalk it up to my longtime fondness for Robin Williams, but I somehow found myself liking the sick bastard!)

Although this is a flick that wears its flaws right out there for all to see, the skilled comic teamwork of Norton, Keener and Williams manage to right the ship on more than one occasion. Not merely for the insane and frothing presence of Robin Williams, Death to Smoochy is a bizarre, colorful, wholly entertaining, and undeniably sick little comedy. Those with a taste for their comedy a little on the questionable side will be entertained; devoted cynics will have a ball.

Directed by Danny DeVito with his trademark concoction of dark unsettling humor set against a colorful backdrop (and featuring a handful of some beautifully "crooked" visual flairs), this twisted little farce is sure to split audiences right down the middle and ultimately enjoy a healthy shelf-life as a cult flick favorite.

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originally posted: 03/28/02 18:31:50
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User Comments

11/13/11 JP Ward Not "dark". Not "satire". Not "edgy", unless you count odd camera angles. 1 stars
2/20/11 Ark Hilarious, sophisticated, overlooked! U want your little booger eater in the big chair? 5 stars
12/28/09 Dane Youssef Funny. Dark. Surreal. Crazy. Like "The Sopranos" on Nickelodeon. Not for all tastes. 4 stars
7/08/09 *Holy_J@lapeno* Had some very funny parts. Its a dark humor movie people!!!!! 3 stars
7/20/08 Shaun Wallner Loved it Robin Williams is great! 4 stars
8/01/06 John Aster Habig What is the deal with that crazy b&*^% Nora 4 stars
12/05/05 Mike Collin hasn't a clue about the point. Good satire albeit flawed. 4 stars
8/27/05 ES The ups and downs in this movie are hilarious, note the public burning scene with Williams 4 stars
2/07/05 Elizaveta my kind of humor! 5 stars
1/17/05 Jeff Anderson Forget R. Williams and E. Norton, CATHERINE KEENER SAVES THIS FILM IN A GREAT PERFORMANCE. 3 stars
9/27/04 alicia a riot.. if only they hadn't tied in a "love story" 4 stars
3/13/04 Dan Underated movie, had some great moments. Williams gave an excellent performance. 4 stars
2/26/04 Mae SO funny. 5 stars
12/23/03 the Grinch Death to Sucky Satire 2 stars
12/12/03 Geo78665 A missed opportunity, but decent enough. 3 stars
12/01/03 *A Monotonous Creton Who Loves Tom Hulce* "Death To All Of The Shitheads Who Hate Smoochy!" is more like it 5 stars
10/28/03 me "It's's uhhh...rocketship!" 5 stars
10/06/03 Rachael Harris I loved it and i want the smoochie costume 5 stars
9/26/03 Zeurdoos Great concept worked out nice 4 stars
4/20/03 Dillon Extraordinarily unfunny, uninspired waste of talent & money 1 stars
4/10/03 Jack Bourbon Pointless movie, but I liked Smoochy's singin'. 3 stars
4/04/03 mike danny devito is an incompetant fuck and contaminates any movie hes in. 1 stars
3/16/03 Film Dude Underrated. 4 stars
2/05/03 natasha_theobald great cast, some funny moments 4 stars
1/16/03 Lindsey Repp I want those 2 hours of my life back. 1 stars
1/07/03 B Dubbs I thought it was ok... not great, but ok 4 stars
11/04/02 Gary This review is pure garbage... Got to give hats off to the message the film delivered, and 5 stars
10/30/02 Zelemont Funny... and just weird as hell. 5 stars
10/22/02 brien I wanna do the jiggy ziggy!!!! 5 stars
10/14/02 Uncle Salty See this movie. One more laugh and I would have been convinced Williams was back on crack. 5 stars
10/03/02 Michaelb14 Charity mobsters and big pink rhinos, funny and bizarre 4 stars
10/03/02 Jason I love Norton, I love Williams, I LOVE SMOOCHY 5 stars
10/02/02 Unanon very quoteable in parts... I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. 4 stars
9/28/02 HekiliKoa I don't see this as dark comedy but a step to the side, into the pure bizarre 4 stars
9/22/02 The Bomb 69 how could anyone like this!!! I love dark comedy but I couldn't finish this crap!!! 1 stars
9/21/02 NWO4LIFE "I'm a wicked man, who's done wicked acts" Williams is a riot. 4 stars
9/19/02 Gregory worst in my lifetime and i'm 52 1 stars
9/12/02 laron chapman SUCKS ASS 3 stars
9/10/02 Danielle Ophelia These are the kinds of comedies I miss...sick and vulgar without being simply GROSS. 4 stars
5/16/02 Stephanie Throckmorton A worst-of-both-worlds mixture of sentimentality and irreverence. Abhorrent. 1 stars
5/12/02 Boss Hawg that was the funniest fucking movie i ever saw 5 stars
4/17/02 Sean Herman Requires some suspension of disbelief, and a bit of playing along...but excellent overall. 4 stars
4/14/02 Pete Idiotic crap from start to finish. 1 stars
4/08/02 bullit17 Norton and Williams are great. The rest, ehhh, not so hot. 3 stars
4/08/02 Titus Strange movie, but highly entertaining. 4 stars
4/05/02 Edfink Lombardo The Best Film so far this year! Very dark, very demented, and very very funny! 5 stars
4/03/02 Superdave very funny 4 stars
4/02/02 Raiven Death to DeVito, Death to Williams, I want my 9 dollars back! 1 stars
4/02/02 Banky Edwards fuck! That was a funny movie....I laughed at things I shouldn't have...I'm going to hell! 5 stars
4/01/02 ajayrockrock several laugh-out-loud moments, but it still felt "long". 4 stars
4/01/02 Mister Char brillant, edward norton's character is very strange after him in Fight club 5 stars
4/01/02 teresa Boring at times,some laughs,could not wait for it to end.Comes together at the end.too long 3 stars
4/01/02 matt kierbow Robin Williams is just as funny as he was in good morning vietnam 5 stars
3/31/02 Jamer My expectations were too high, but I still enjoyed it (at the matinee price). 3 stars
3/31/02 brent young a great dark comedy, though it chickens out a few times...worth the ticket $ and more. 4 stars
3/31/02 Film Dude no petzold, this was a good movie 5 stars
3/31/02 Michael petzold this movie was so stupid I think robin williams carrer has down down the **** hole 1 stars
3/29/02 Frankly Amazing movie, cracked out at times, but worth your money. 5 stars
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  29-Mar-2002 (R)



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