*** Official "DEATH TO SMOOCHY" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Mar 28, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Death to Smoochy". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues, I have designated an Official Discussion Thread which can be found at this link.
  2. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

    Oct 3, 2000
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    I'll start things off before PFEIFFER shows up with his somewhat less enthusiastic review. (Hey, Pfeiffer & Weinberg at the Movies could be a great TV show!)
    Death to Smoochy - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (out of 5)
    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.
  3. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator

    Jun 30, 1999
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    Loved the hard-R material (mostly filthy language from a deranged Robin Williams). It was like being back at a George Carlin comedy concert in some respects.

    The situations are funny, the overall plot wasn't too engaging. The performances ranged from "you got to be kidding me" funny to "oooo-kay, that's over the top" funny.

    The performances of the principle actors (Norton and Williams) overcome a so-so script. I am thinking the writers thought just the spectacle of a lovable environmentally conscious rhino would be enough.

    If you're in a foul mood, you might get some laughs out of the film.

    I did enjoy the credits sequence at the end of the film.

    I think if you're a fan of the actors involved, you won't be too disappointed. I have to say that punchdrunk restaurant owner (former Irish boxer) character was painfully funny (in that "I know I shouldn't be laughing but I am" way).

    It could have been a great satire on the whole kiddie entertainment genre, but somewhere it lost sight of that central theme and discarded it for a more pedestrian fare/plot.

    I'd give it 2.75 stars or a grade of B-.
  4. Chris

    Chris Lead Actor

    Jul 4, 1997
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    Far better then I had expected.
    For someone who has small children, "Death to Smoochy" took almost every pot shot available at the genre... some of the "best jokes" (IMHO) seemed to be lost on the crowd, but for those of us there with kids were boggling in how "nailed" the subject matter was.. (the Stepfather song; which seemed to be a dead on copy of a NickJr. event a year ago; the "show on Ice" which seemed as an absolute parody of the "Barney Conducts the PBS orchestra" from last year)
    Some of the jokes were laugh out loud funny; some were more simple. Robin Williams was the Robin Williams of "old" for the first time in a very long time.
    This movie may not be a ratings blockbuster, but had some fantastic moments. It appears obvious that a few scenes were cut.. one that was obviously cut that made no sense occurred:

    As Smoochy left his agent and TV Exec to the Irish mob.. and they said "don't worry, we'll take care of them.." and it never returned to them..
    Another humorous take was how most PBS shows were sent up (Bob the train conductor, anyone?)
    "Death To Smoochy" is not a film for everyone, but it was amazing how well Norton & Williams played their roles. Jon Stewart was woefully underused (I'm wondering what ended up on the cutting room floor) and some of the moments seemed "too insider" for a movie-going set (parents with small kids) that just isn't there...
    But if you are one of those people.. or if you're seeking a truly dark & twisted comedy, go.
    And, pay attention to the ticker-tape scrollers and traffic signs for messages [​IMG]
    *** out of ****
  5. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

    Jan 23, 2000
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    Short review
    Not as good as Throw Momma from the Train, but not bad either. Ed Norton does another great job with a really new character, kind of new-age goody two-shoes. Robin Williams must have had a sapendectomy, because he's nearly back to the level he was at with The Survivors (which is a good thing). Also, through some clever writing, the kid show portions are sorta fun to watch. Just wait till you hear the Smoochy song stepdads. [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. Ron Ryder

    Ron Ryder Auditioning

    Mar 29, 2002
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    I saw this yesterday and just thought it was hilarious. Williams and Norton are fantastic, as is Keener. Very funny film.

  7. Lance_R

    Lance_R Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 26, 2000
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    I would give it an 8 out of 10. Black comidies are hard to come by and this one delivers on all accounts. The best was when you first see Ed Norton's character in his make-shit costume, lol.

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