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Death To Smoochy

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Death To Smoochy

Starring: Edward Norton, Robin Williams
Director: Danny DeVito
Rated: R
RunTime: 109 Minutes
Release Date: March 2002
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Pam Ferris, Danny DeVito, Catherine Keener, Harvey Fierstein, Danny Woodburn, Jon Stewart, Michael Rispoli

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

ING (0 TO ****): * 1/2

Danny DeVito's DEATH TO SMOOCHY opens with the assassination of Smoochy (Edward Norton), the star of a popular kids' show. Called "Barney's bastard son" by his rival, Rainbow Randolph Smiley (Robin Williams), Smoochy is the world's most squeaky clean kids' show host. An organic food zealot, he doesn't want any product tie-ins, which infuriates Kidnet Vice President Nora Wells (Catherine Keener), who is in charge of his show. The story is told in flashback as we learn how Smoochy came to stardom.

Although the movie tries to parody kids' television productions, the movie ends up being almost as awful as what it is trying to parody. At least the film isn't as bad as some of Danny DeVito's other recent films such as SCREWED and WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? An R-rated black comedy, DEATH TO SMOOCHY is certainly not appropriate for youngsters even if they are the subjects of the story.

When we first meet Smoochy, he is at a methadone clinic trying to cheer up the junkies by singing, "We'll get you off that smack. Yes, we will." Nora has come to hire him to replace Rainbow Randolph, who has been arrested and fired for taking bribes from parents wanting to get their kids on his show. The network needs someone who is as pure as the driven snow, and you don't get more wholesome than Smoochy. Rainbow is seen frequently thereafter waving guns and whining, "I want my time slot back!"

Although most of the movie is painfully unfunny, two sequences are quite imaginative. One occurs when Rainbow finally brings down Smoochy by tarnishing his image, and the other happens at an ice opera. For the rest of the movie, you'll be thinking what Rainbow pleads to Nora and Smoochy, "Put me out of my misery!"

DEATH TO SMOOCHY runs 1:49. It is rated R for "language and sexual references" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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