Death To Smoochy Review
By Shawn McKenzie 03/26/2002
There is something definitely twisted about the mind of Danny DeVito. On the rare cases when he directs a movie, they tend to stand out because of their warped style. In Death To Smoochy, he continues down the weird path.
In his past movies, like Throw Momma From The Train and The War of the Roses, there has been a dysfunctional aspect to them. Even in his kiddie movie Matilda, there was dysfunction in the family. In Death To Smoochy, the dysfunction is rampant.
The movie is about a guy named Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton) who created a Barney-like rhino named Smoochy. He gets his own show on the Kidnet network after the original host, Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams), is caught embezzling funds. Randolph becomes increasingly jealous as he watches Smoochy become much more popular than he ever was. His jealousy leads him to try to discredit him show he can take the time-slot back. Several attempts fail and he decides to take more drastic measures.
Randolph's increasing madness along with Sheldon's dealings with inner-kiddie-show corruption are the funniest parts of the movie. I had heard that DeVito took out a lot of the original violence because of the events of 9/11, which I find a shame. I am a big fan of black comedies, and when they are toned down, the impact is lost. This movie still has plenty of impact, but I kept imagining what the original version would have been like. Like Sheldon, I am kind of a goodie-goodie (though not quite to the extreme of Sheldon), so I like to escape into twisted movies because I am so straight. The performances and little side things (Like Smoochy's song about stepfathers) are what make this movie hilarious. It just would have been nice to get a little more twist with my humor.
Until filmmakers feel that the sensibilities of the movie-going public are not going to be traumatized by black comedies, this will continue to happen. I hope this happens soon, because I think a movie like Death To Smoochy could join the ranks of black-comedy classics like After Hours, Heathers, Grosse Point Blanke, Very Bad Things, and even DeVito's own War of the Roses. That will make for a good, fun, twisted time at the movies!
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