Death To Smoochy

"Good"

Death To Smoochy Review


It's so comforting to see Robin Williams in yet another family movie, playing a psychotic kiddie show clown fired from his job and bent on murdering the guy in the purple rhino suit who took his place...

Hey! Wait a minute!

Truth be told, it is so refreshing to see Robin Williams turn 180 degrees from the string of insultingly innocuous and sappy fiascoes he's been making almost habitually for the last several years ("Bicentennial Man," "Patch Adams," etc.) and dive headlong into "Death to Smoochy," a relentlessly dark farce that takes place in the fictitiously cutthroat world of children's television.

Williams plays Rainbow Randolph, a corrupt charlatan megastar from a kiddie network who gets bounced from his own show after being busted for accepting bribes from parents wanting to see their children front and center on TV.

While Randolph finds himself suddenly broke, homeless and seething with deranged wrath, the program's callous producers (Jon Stewart in a bad Beatles/Caesar hairdo and slinky Catherine Keener playing a variation on her office hellcat from "Being John Malkovich") desperately seek a squeaky-clean replacement from a list of down-on-their-luck costumed buffoons.

"Buggy Ding Dong?" she suggests. "Heroin mule," he replies ironically. And so it goes until they arrive at Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton), a.k.a. Smoochy the Rhino, a principled chump living in optimistic hope of being discovered while performing "regular Friday night gigs at a Coney Island methadone clinic" out of the goodness of his heart.

Discarding his homemade costume (a boxer's padded sparring helmet spray-painted purple served as Smoochy's head) for a super-deluxe Barney-like rhinoceros suit, Sheldon slides giddily into Randolph's time slot. He soon becomes a national sensation by singing songs like "My Stepdad's Not Mean, He's Just Adjusting" while happy tykes dance with midgets in miniature rhino get-ups. But it isn't long before naive, warm-fuzzy, wheat-grass sipping Sheldon is butting heads with network suits over turning Smoochy into a shill for merchandise, candy and soda.

Meanwhile, Randolph starts sneaking onto the set to sabotage Smoochy's show. "Welcome to Fatty Arbuckle land!" he cackles maniacally as he substitutes the rhino's sugar-free soy goodies for the studio audience kids with a bag of obscenely-shaped cookies.

Written by "Late Night" and "Larry Sanders Show" vet Adam Resnick and directed by Danny Devito, "Death to Smoochy" is wickedly twisted, thorny and tart. It takes place in a comical world where, for example, children's charities are run like mafia syndicates (gravel-voiced Harvey Fierstein is a hoot as an enforcer from a foundation called "Parade of Hope"). And the movie only gets weirder as Randolph's insane campaign against Smoochy escalates toward an absurdly operatic ice-show finale.

Every performance in the picture is pitch-perfect for its pitch-black sense of humor, especially Norton's subtly subversive take on sweet, scrupulous Sheldon, who is so harmless that orange juice spiked with liquid alfalfa gets him drunk. His wholesome Mr. Rodgers-like persona hides a dungeonous dark side that peeks out from time to time and you're never quite sure if he might snap.

Keener just keeps getting funnier as her caustic TV producer gets the hots for Sheldon even though she can't stand him, exposing her past as a kiddie show groupie who has slept with almost every costumed entertainer in her channel's history. DeVito makes an appearance too, as a greedy greaseball who becomes Smoochy's agent in order to set him up to take a fall at the behest of the charity thugs.

But the film might not have worked at all without Williams' limitless capacity for deviant lunacy, which is put to good use by DeVito. The director gives his star just enough leash to frolic in the swarthiest recesses of his talent without letting him hang himself by going overboard into unchecked improvisation.



Death To Smoochy

Facts and Figures

Run time: 109 mins

In Theaters: Friday 29th March 2002

Box Office USA: $8.3M

Budget: $55M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 69

IMDB: 6.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Rainbow Randolph, as Nora Wells, as Burke Bennett, as Marion Frank Stokes, as Tommy Cotter, as Sheldon Mopes / Smoochy, as Angelo Pike, as Spinner Dunn, as Merv Green, as Buggy Ding Dong

Contactmusic


Links


Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.