Death To Smoochy [DVD]
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Childrens television its a cut-throat world. Fired from his hit kids show after a bribery scandal, Rainbow Randolph star Randolph Smiley (Robin Williams) finds himself out on the street and replaced by squeaky-clean Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton), an all-round do-gooder who entertains kids dressed as a lovable purple rhino called Smoochy.
Much to Randolphs anger, The Smoochy Show is a huge hit, but he isnt about to take it on the chin. He sets out on an unrelenting smear campaign, hoping to drag Smoochys name through the mud with a series of increasingly aggressive schemes. But Randolph is only a part of the problem. What with merchandise spin-offs, an on-again-off-again romance with network exec Nora (Catherine Keener) and the unwanted attentions of a shifty agent (Danny DeVito) and some Irish gangsters, Sheldons honourable intentions are coming under fire from every angle. Led by a hilarious Robin Williams and directed by Danny DeVito, Death To Smoochy is a seriously twisted look at the lengths to which some people will go to hold onto fame.
Guaranteed to please anyone who thinks Barney is Satan's spawn, Death to Smoochy mines comedy gold by skewering children's television. Adam Resnick's easy-target satire blossoms under the demented influence of director-costar Danny DeVito, who honors his legacy of venom-laced humor with the raucous rivalry of scandalized former kid-show host Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) and his squeaky-clean replacement, Sheldon Mopes, a.k.a. Smoochy the Rhino (Edward Norton). Randolph is insanely obsessed with getting his job back, but Smoochy's a smash, and their war for kid-vid supremacy places a jaded "KidNet" producer (Catherine Keener) in the middle of a Rainbow/Rhino smackdown. A few lulls are easily forgiven since much of Death to Smoochy is laugh-out-loud hilarious, with DeVito, Robert Prosky, Jon Stewart, and Harvey Fierstein in choice supporting roles. It's no wonder DeVito's taboo-busting drew fire from family groups and actual kid-show producers; only the humorless would fail to laugh at Smoochy's uncompromised irreverence. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to the VHS Tape edition.See all Product description
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Robin Williams plays Rainbow Randolph who, with shades of the Simpsons' Krusty the Clown, is a very different character off screen. Busted taking a bribe by the FBI, Randolph is dropped by his network (like Pee-Wee Herman) and a replacement is sought by the KidsNet network that is "Squeaky F***ing Clean".
Enter the well meaning innocent Sheldon Mopes (Norton) and his creation, Smoochy the singing Fuschia Rhino. Randolph hates Smoochy and plots his downfall in various manic ways, whilst around the hapless Mopes move the sinister circles of the Irish mafia (!), "the worst of the Charities" (!!) and the corporate sharks of KidsNet.
This is very dark, and containing the wickedly sick sense of humour that DeVito has added to his other films. Williams is wonderfully funny again, and reminds us that when he is let loose to improvise he can be one of the very best film comedians, especially with his manic foul-mouthed rant about the 'spaceship' cookies. Also worthy of a mention is Ed Norton who here adds singing and comedy to his acting bow. Is there nothing this guy can't do? Smoochy's songs sung by this amiable innocent with a sweet smile on his face become even funnier ('My stepdad isn't mean, he's just adjusting' is the funniest).
However everything else in this movie is patchy and inconsistent. Corporate cynicism gets a healthy swipe at the start, but then takes a back seat; the idea that all children's entertainers are burnt out wackos also gets dropped, then revived near the end. Harvey Fierstein's character and organisation had the potential for plenty of laughs, but fizzed away to nothing. It could have been so much better (the oh so sweet ending is definitely ill thought out).
So not five stars, but when this is funny it is laugh-out loud funny. It is loud, crude and gleeful when attacking kids TV. Cult audience then, but an appreciative one.
If you're a fan of Robin Williams' quirky, light-hearted performances, then you may be disappointed. His role here is one of his darker, more serious ones (think `One Hour Photo, only more openly psychotic). He plays a disgraced children's TV show presenter who vows - lethal - revenge on his successor - the mild-mannered and good-natured `Smoochy' (his stage name), played by Edward Norton. Also, it's fair to say that, despite Robin Williams being billed as the `star,' I was surprised at how much screen time was given to Edward Norton - really he should be billed as the star.
There are mob hits, beatings, murder, blackmail and Nazis in this film - hardly the stuff of your average family comedy. Therefore, the humour is pretty black. It's also a satire - showing you the `dark side' of something so allegedly pure as children's TV.
If you like your movies dark, satirical and slightly over the top, then give this one a go. You won't forget the sight of gangsters performing a `hit' on a giant, cuddly rhino in a hurry.
I'm not a huge Robin Williams fan (he should have a quality control valve fitted), but he made me laugh until I wept in a couple of parts of this film. It would appear that while he was allowed to ad-lib, the director/producers restrained him from going too far off-subject. The scene where he moves from courthouse to car is the highlight of his entire career.
Someone before me remarked that the film is patchy, which is true, but it is definitely worth a watch. Williams is excellent, Norton good, while not having to do too much and Keener's not bad. Highly recommended!
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I bought it recently, after Robin Williams passed away, to share it with my boyfriend...Read more