Death to Smoochy: Give It the Kiss-off
- Saturday, March 02, 2002
Death To Smoochy - R
Best for: Very mature adults who like dark comedies.
What it's about: When "Rainbow Randolph" (Robin Williams) is busted for accepting bribes to put children on his successful children's TV show, the Kidnet network president (Jon Stewart) and VP of development (Catherine Keener) find a squeaky clean replacement in Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton). Kids love "Mr. Smoochy" and his simple songs, colorful rhino costume and sweet demeanor, and success soon follows.
As his show becomes a hit, everyone wants to be in on the take. Soon Sheldon has a new agent (Danny DeVito), new Mafioso friends (Pam Ferris, Michael Rispoli) and some acquaintances who aren't so friendly (Harvey Fierstein). Eventually a hitman (Vincent Schiavelli) is hired to kill Sheldon. Will good triumph over evil? And how far or low will network honchos go to please the public?
The good: Norton is the surprise in this movie. His character transforms from a no-name performer who sings kiddy songs for drug addicts at a clinic (with lyrics like, "We'll get you off that smack, yes we will, cuz the smack can lead to crack, oh yes it can") to the lovable Mr. Smoochy. Sheldon takes his fame seriously and decides to run things ethically and with integrity, for the sake of the kids. Williams has a few funny lines, but the dark material overshadows the good.
The not-so-good: This black comedy doesn't take itself seriously, but it's bizarre characters, unrealistic situations, vengeful behavior and abundant foul language and violence should offend just about everyone. Williams plays one of the most vindictive, psychotic and despicable characters he's ever played. The entire story has violent undertones played as dark comedy, with several deaths and lots of physical violence.
Danny DeVito directed this mess, and I can't help but wonder who was amused enough to green-light a movie about twisted, evil men trying to kill the host of a kids' TV show? What target audience were they going for? This is not a movie most people will enjoy.
Offensive language and behavior: An abundant amount of profanity and crude dialogue that should offend just about everyone and ruins anything that might otherwise be funny. The "F"-word is a regular part of Williams' dialogue. Lots of other profanity and slang terms, and the use of religious profanity in almost every scene. Several characters drink or get drunk.
Sexual situations: Mr. Smoochy reaches into a bag for a cookie and pulls out what appears to be a cookie shaped like a man's sexual organ. He quickly tells the kids it's a rocket ship, but one child runs on stage and admits he made the cookie and switched it, using all sorts of slang terms for male genitals. Nora and Sheldon passionately kiss, and their silhouettes behind a screen depict them stripping and imply that they start to have sex. Nora admits she was a "kiddie-host" groupie and had sex with other male stars.
Violence: Silhouetted images of men hitting or torturing a costumed character or man. A couple of scenes show several characters being pushed around or roughed up. Randolph kicks over a TV and smashes it.
An assassin tries to kill Sheldon but only shoots off the top of his costume. The assassin then falls to his death and lands on the ice (his body is shown underneath the ice, but there's no blood.)
Parental advisory: Needless to say, this is not a children's movie even though the story revolves around a children's TV show. This movie's dark themes and violence make it unacceptable for kids or young teens.
Bottom Line: Some Williams fans may be entertained by seeing this twisted, sick side of the actor, but most will be offended. Although there are a few funny scenes between he and Norton, overall, the story is dark, depressing and a waste of money and time.
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