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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 EricDSnider

"Death to the old Robin Williams! Death to boring comedies! Viva 'Smoochy'!"
4 stars

Give “Death to Smoochy” 20 minutes or so to get its wheels on the tracks, and then sit back and enjoy as the proceedings turn dark, macabre and hilarious (if you can bring yourself to laugh at such things as murder and revenge, anyway. And of course you can).

It is the story of children’s TV star Smoochy the Rhino -- think Barney the Dinosaur -- whose alter ego is Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton), an endlessly polite vegetarian who has no idea what a dork he is. He wouldn’t appreciate you using words like “dork” in his presence anyway, thank you.

He rockets to TV stardom when he’s hired to replace Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams), a vaguely homosexual song-and-dance man whose show was canceled after he was caught in a public scandal. He’s a bitter, foul-mouthed guy -- think Krusty the Clown when he’s not on camera -- who generally refers to himself as “Rainbow [expletive] Randolph.”

Randolph is angry over the success of his successor and plots revenge. Meanwhile, Sheldon, who has a “fetish for ethics,” is struggling with the realities of the TV business. His boss, Nora (Catherine Keener), is cynical and hardened and wants the show to be nothing more than a commercial for Smoochy products. His agent, who is played by Danny DeVito, is exactly what you’d expect an agent played by Danny DeVito to be like.

Sheldon gets tangled up with the Irish Mafia, too -- presumably because the Irish Mafia is funnier than the Italian one -- when one of their members, a brain-damaged former boxer named Spinner (Michael Rispoli), joins the ranks of Smoochy fandom.

The script, by Adam Resnick (a former David Letterman scribe and Chris Elliott compatriot), is peppered with witty dialogue and dark twists on congenial themes. Children’s TV is a vicious underworld here, and the non-profit “for the kids” organizations that support it are just as bad. (One such group, Parade of Hope, run by an evil Harvey Fierstein, is described as “the roughest of all the charities.”)

Some of the best dialogue cannot be printed in polite company (though we will mention Smoochy’s wonderful educational song, “My Stepdad’s Not Mean, He’s Just Adjusting”). This is the rare film where the profanity is necessary. Half the fun is in hearing people use outrageously crass language in front of Sheldon/Smoochy, who is appalled but too polite to rebuke the offender.

Robin Williams has not had this much fun in years; it is a relief to see him genuinely funny again, and not sanctimonious or righteous. Edward Norton loses himself in the role of Sheldon, and Catherine Keener is a good sport, too. (Let us also not forget Jon Stewart as a whimpering TV yes-man, and Pam Ferris as the Momma of the Irish mob.)

DeVito directed the film, and it recalls the dark sense of humor he employed in “The War of the Roses” and “Throw Momma from the Train.” Yet for as dark as it gets -- and there is death in “Death to Smoochy” -- it has the aura of giddy, good-natured cartoonishness about it. And besides: Beating up a guy in a foam-rubber rhino suit is just plain funny.

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originally posted: 03/29/02 10:24:06
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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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