Screw all those crappy reviews! This is a wonderful film! First of all, I was hoping to one day see a movie about the actors behind a children's TV show who are completely nuts in real life. Well, I got my wish. I would say that Adam Resnick (the writer) stole my idea, but I had no exact thoughts on where to go with the premise. Well, Resnick went really far with this wonderful premise and in result we have this dark, alluring, hilarious comedy!
The cast is absolutely topnotch! I read one review slamming Edward Norton's performance in the film, saying that he phoned in his performance. Sure, his performance in this film doesn't QUITE measure up to those in "Primal Fear" and "Rounders," but he did one hell of a job, and I can tell he researched the role very well to the point where he completely disappeared into the character. Whether it's a dramatic or comedic role, Norton always immerses himself in his roles. Though you can classify him as the straight man in this wacky satire, he says and does a lot of things that had me cracking up, without any humorous intentions. The only thing that disappointed me slightly was that Robin Williams didn't have as big a role as I expected. In the first 45 minutes, we only see him intermittently. Actually, Norton really has the starring role and if Robin weren't a more popular actor, he probably would've been billed first. Norton's one of my favorite actors, but I believe if you're gonna bill an actor as the star, he better be the star! But Robin Williams was still in top form. Catherine Keener is beautiful, yet entirely convincing as an ego-driven TV executive. Jon Stewart doesn't have too many funny scenes, but his goofy Jerry Lewis haircut was enough to make me crack up. Danny Woodburn--Mickey from "Seinfeld"--shows off his fine acting skills, playing more than just the "little guy." The always-amusing Vincent Schiavelli makes a few appearances towards the end. Michael Rispoli is both hilarious and likable as the simple-minded ex-fighter, Spinner. Danny DeVito proves yet again that his skills behind the camera match his talents in front of the camera.
I don't suppose "Death to Smoochy" will be receiving any major Oscars, but it should at least be nominated for Best Art Direction. The sets, lighting and color pallette are absolutely incredible. As grim as it is, it's a beautiful film to look at.
This is an R-rated comedy with a well-deserved "R." There's tons of profanity and some truly crude (though not disgusting, thankfully) sex gags. If you're in the mood for an old-fashioned, Cary Grant-type screwball comedy--you will be sorely appalled. Nevertheless, the humor is smart and witty, just drenched in cynicism. When Norton was doing the show and pulled out a cookie shaped like a man's genitals and Robin started screaming at the kids what it really is, I was dying with laughter. You may not feel good about laughing at some of these jokes, but the sense of humor doesn't lie. But as cynical as it is, I didn't feel the movie was mean-spirited. Because I'm often turned off by mean-spirited comedies. I guess it's because as scummy as these characters prove to be, there's at least one redeeming quality about each of them. Sure, Rainbow Randolph is a loud, obnoxious drunk. He lost his TV show. They snatched his dream, because of one little bribery slip-up. So he's not a saint. Is Mister Rogers a saint? As far as we know, but how do we know for sure he wasn't in the same theater as Pee Wee Herman, disguised in a fake moustache and beard, pleasuring himself as well? Whatever the public don't know can't hurt them.
I was glad to see that the movie averaged a 6.9 rating on the IMDB. I was expecting a rating much lower, after its poor box office records and countless bad reviews from major critics. Well, I had a blast! It's an energetic, upbeat, fun-filled journey with a ton of laughs. I surely hope it one day reaches cult status. And the sequence over the closing credits is perfectly delightful. If you love Robin Williams and think he's one of the funniest men in the planet, if you're a fan of the great Edward Norton, if you think Catherine Keener is really hot, if you think Danny DeVito is a genius or if you simply wanna have a barrel of laughs--"Death to Smoochy" will keep you alive with pleasure.
My score: 7 (out of 10)