1. Sign-up to become a member, and most of the ads you see will disappear. It only takes 30 seconds to sign up, so join the discussion today!
    Dismiss Notice

HTF REVIEW: "Death To Smoochy" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 13, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Death To Smoochy

    Studio: Warner Brothers
    Year: 2002
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 109 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

    Sometimes its nice to go against the grain. Despite
    the bad reviews Death To Smoochy received
    critically, this review is going to a positive one.
    Popular children’s show host Rainbow Randolph
    (Robin Williams) is the colorfully dressed star of
    Kidnet's cable show until he is caught illegally
    taking monetary bribes from parents to get their
    own kids on the program.
    In an effort to quickly replace his time slot with
    a new show, TV bosses Nora Wells (Catherine Keener)
    and Frank Stokes (Jon Stewart) comb the most
    unlikeliest places to find struggling performer
    Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton), a rather holy fool
    who instantly rises to stardom with his lovable
    character of Smoochy, a purple rhinoceros who
    vaguely reminds us of Barney the Dinosaur.
    Flat broke and reviled, Smiley blames his successor --
    Smoochy -- for his misfortune, and vows to kill him.
    With a script that is smart, crafty and witty, Death
    To Smoochy brings a sort of fresh originality to
    the screen we don't often see. Both Williams and
    Norton are at the top of their form here -- especially
    Norton, who manages to project his character's sweet
    innocence and naivete. Still, I think the movie failed
    with most critics due to the fact that the script
    becomes a bit sloppy at times, holding back the film
    from really cutting loose and having a good time with
    How is the transfer?
    Warner doesn't seem to be breaking their track
    record of releasing first rate transfers of their
    current theatrical product. Once again we get an
    absolutely crisp and detailed transfer that
    rivals with the best the studio has to offer. What
    will impress you most about this transfer is the
    fact that just about every scene looks like a
    candy store.
    Filled with a vivid rainbow of colors, every
    frame looks like Walt Disney threw up all over
    it. This film never ceases to dazzle us with
    its beauty. My notepad is filled with scribblings
    that point out individual things to look for such
    as Nora Well's red leather jacket, or the colorful
    surroundings of the Kidnet television offices.
    And as many times as I have been to Times Square,
    I have never seen it look so beautiful than in this
    film. As beautiful as Times Square looks, it's
    amazing to see that Nora's hat and scarf become the
    objects of attention with their deep vivid blue
    colors. There is absolutely no film grain to be
    seen anywhere in this transfer.
    The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is average. Most of
    this film is heavy through the front channels.
    Dialogue stays in the center channel while action
    is nicely distributed left and right. The rears
    are only sparingly used, providing effect noises
    such as wind on a snowy Coney Island evening and
    the faint sounds of the surrounding city. The LFE
    channel seems to be totally nonexistent here.
    Special Features
    Warner Brothers has provided what they coin as
    a "Rhino-Mite" selection of bonus features. Indeed,
    this DVD does aim to please.
    First of all, before I begin, I have a question.
    Why has Warner Brothers opted to release a
    separate FULL FRAME version of this DVD? The only
    time they think of such a dastardly deed is when
    it concerns a family title. The way they are
    marketing this film makes me think that perhaps
    Warner is unaware that this is the farthest thing
    from a family title there can be. How many parents
    are going to take a look at the misleading cover
    and buy this for the kids?
    Back to the review....
    When you pop in the disc, you are greeted with
    a clever animated menu that has child performer
    Rainbow Randolph doing a few dances. Keep the
    menu going for a bit and you'll see the story
    progress into one that stars Smoochy himself.
    First is up is a full-length commentary
    by Director Danny Devito and Director of
    Photography Anastas Michos. Danny is in rare
    form, convincing you that this was the most fun
    he ever had making a film, congratulating the
    cast that really supported him. One of Danny's
    favorite scenes to shoot was the Coney Island scene
    (with its added snow) as the park was so close
    to his heart. He recalls a story about going
    to Nathans hot dogs as a kid. Watch the Hot Dog
    that Sheldon pops in his mouth as Danny tells
    you exactly what it is made of. Anastas is very
    brief and low-key here, almost mumbling as he
    talks about why he chose different camera angles
    for different scenes. The contrast between him
    and Devito is quite scary. As I continued listening
    to this commentary I got the distinct feeling that
    both these men were never in the room together,
    thus, the commentaries seem that they are pasted
    together. Danny was eager to work with Harvey
    Fierstein as they worked together in a stage play
    during the 70s. Working in Times Square was quite
    a thrill for Devito, as they added their own
    exclusive newsstand on 46th street. Anastas, on
    the other hand, is very proud of the way they
    sparked up the Kidnet offices adding lots of color
    and spiral lighting. While the commentary is
    often interesting, it sort of lacks any flavor due
    to the fact that it loses its spontaneous energy
    from what seems to be two separate recording sessions
    spliced together as one.
    The Behind-The-Scenes Documentary begins
    with a whole lotta foot tappin' as several shots
    show Williams, Norton and the midget cast practicing
    their dance numbers. What follows is perhaps one
    of the funniest featurettes I have yet to see, as
    this featurette never has the opportunity to
    take itself seriously. There's really very little
    interviewing going on here. Instead, we get slapped
    across our face with shot after shot of the cast
    having a ball, shouting out profanities, and saying
    whatever comes to their mind first. This is the
    first REAL no-bullshit behind-the-scenes featurette
    that shows us what really went on behind the scenes
    without making itself a promotional vehicle. We even
    get a look at some of the special effects shots
    being done as well as the stand-in dance work that
    was done by Olympic Figure Skater, Elvis Stojko.
    Man, I wish all the featurettes on these DVDs were
    as fun to watch as this one.
    (length: approx. 7.4 minutes)
    There are 10 additional scenes . They
    * Angelo introducing Rainbow Randolph at the
    very beginning of the film.
    * As replacements are sought for Smoochy, a
    Japanese kiddie-show called Tinpan Tikashi is
    * Rainbow Randolph, undercover in Times Square,
    making a phone call to his old friend Angelo.
    * A never used song called "Last Nappy Time",
    which was a tribute to the fallen Spinner Dunn.
    * A very bloody alternative ending to Merv Green
    (Harvey Fierstein).
    * A bathroom scene with Bugsy (Vincent Schiavelli)
    about to do smack.
    All of the added scenes are less than a minute
    apiece. In total, they last about 6.25 minutes.
    Most of it adds nothing to the film and was
    obviously omitted for pacing concerns.
    Bloopers and Outtakes seems to be the
    rap party gag reel, and what a gag reel it is!
    Set to up tempo music, we watch the cast flub
    their lines, miss their cues, and do a whole
    lotta shakin' for the camera. This is the kind
    of stuff you wish went on forever, but unfortunately,
    lasts for just under 5 minutes.
    In Interactive Ice Show you take the part
    of Director and call the shots by playing Smoochy's
    ice show with your choice of different camera
    positions. To be honest, you'll play with this
    for a mere minute and probably opt to do something
    else -- that is, unless you get frustrated if and
    when your remote locks up on the feature like mine
    did. Move on -- nothing worthwhile here.
    Three of the film's original theatrical trailers
    are included on this DVD, each with a different
    perspective on promotion. Check out Danny's
    to see the most interesting way the
    filmmakers sought to promote this film.
    The Magic Cookie Bag is an entire area full
    of delicious extras. First up is almost thirty
    behind-the-scenes stills that are sort of
    fun to look at. Some Production Designs still
    drawings show what the designers were originally
    aiming for. Costume Design stills are
    artist renderings of the characters that made up
    the Ice Show as well of the layers of costuming
    that made up Norton's Smoochy character. Other
    Art Materials mainly show Kidnet promotional
    posters and logos for their Rainbow Randolph and
    Smoochy TV shows. Production Stills take
    a close personal look at some of the character
    shots from the film. Smoochy's Summer Vacation
    is clever for only about 10 seconds, as it mainly
    consists of pictures taken by Director of Photography
    Tass Michos, where he inserts a Smoochy doll into
    every picture frame. I suppose the only person
    who thought this would be interesting to watch was
    Tass Michos himself.
    Finally, the usual cast and crew page enables
    you to click upon any cast member or filmmaker listed
    to see a complete filmography of their film and
    television career.
    DVD-ROM content enables you to link to
    Warner Brother's theatrical website where you can
    play games or check on-line events.
    Final Thoughts
    Despite what you may have heard, Death To Smoochy
    is an amusing, outlandish black comedy filled with
    all sorts of oddities, pulled off as best as possible
    by William's maniacal madness and Norton's golly-gee
    Rent this one for sure. The supplements are well
    worth the effort alone. Some of you may even opt
    to buy this DVD afterwards.
    Release Date: September 17, 2002
  2. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

    Mar 24, 2000
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    I was starting to think I was the only one that liked this movie. Good to hear a critic give it a positive review. Can't wait to pick this up.
  3. Brian_Anderson

    Feb 22, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    i'll probably end up getting this one... what can i say, its kinda sick humor made me laugh and Robin Williams plays a good bad guy. Nice review Ron.
  4. Randy A Salas

    Randy A Salas Screenwriter

    Apr 25, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    I wasn't thinking of buying it, but I'll have to add it.
    Barney got on my nerves as a kid, so I'd like to see some good satire. I wish WB could have put the Animaniacs parody called "Baloney and Friends" on the disc as an extra. [​IMG]
  6. felix_suwarno

    felix_suwarno Screenwriter

    Dec 2, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    a good bad guy?
  7. Neil S. Bulk

    Neil S. Bulk Screenwriter

    Sep 13, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Real Name:
    Neil S. Bulk
  8. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

    Feb 12, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
  9. John Parris

    John Parris Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 10, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Walt Disney puke? Sounds like a brilliant cinematic technique to me! [​IMG]
    Can't wait to rent it... I skipped it in the theater for some reason, though I usually think most critics are full of themselves and have terrible taste. Are these the same bastards that gave Dogma 1 star? *sigh*... The price I pay for living in the Bible belt, I suppose. Thanks for the review.
  10. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

    Feb 12, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
  11. Denton

    Denton Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 1, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Real Name:
    I'm oblivious to any "critic response" to this film, but I CAN say I'm really disappointed. I wanted to like this picture. The idea of a black comedy aimed at Barney sounds great. Unfortunately, I didn't laugh much. I liked the "Stepfather" song. I liked the concept. But in the end I thought this was one of the larger wastes of talent I've run into in a long time. Too bad.[​IMG]
  12. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

    Mar 16, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    I didn't read Ron's review carefully enough. I just went to rent this DVD and inadvertently picked up the full frame version. Ugh. Just went to go exchange it. What a royal pain in the butt. Luckily the clerk was very understanding and sympathetic.
    Oh well...after that I only had a chance to watch the first 25 minutes during the remainder of my lunch hour. I like it so far. Edward Norton's very amusing as the squeaky clean rhino.
  13. Chris Moe

    Chris Moe Screenwriter

    Jun 12, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Netflix shipped one to me yesterday, should have it tonight, can't wait to watch it.

    Thanks for the review Ron.
  14. JohnE

    JohnE Supporting Actor

    Jan 1, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    I thought it was funny as hell. Not exactly what I was expecting, but very enjoyable.
  15. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

    Jun 17, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    I rented this the day it came out, I'm undecided still on whether I want to own it. I thought it was great.

    I was particularly impressed by Norton's dead-on immitation of Woody Harrelson. He's an amazing actor.
  16. DerrickRemmert

    Jun 10, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    This movie was so lame! The first 15 - 20 minutes was ok but after that it was just the same joke over and over. A complete waste of time and money.

Share This Page