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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 Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

Set in the superficially benign world of children's television, this deliciously wicked comedy is a satiric riff on the "Death to Barney" concept. Robin Williams plays "Rainbow Randolph," the foul-mouthed, degenerate host of a hit kiddy show. He's a major success until he's busted by the FBI for taking bribes. Embarrassed, the Kidnet president demands a squeaky clean replacement, and there's no one with higher ethics than Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton) a.k.a. "Smoochy," a friendly fuchsia rhinoceros. "You can't change the world," Sheldon says, "but you can always make a dent." So on orders from her boss (Jon Stewart), a cynical programming exec (Catherine Keener) reluctantly grooms the guileless cornball for stardom, introducing him to the corporate corruption, bribery and duplicity of TV broadcasting. But idealistic Sheldon is into creativity (watch for a biting song about stepfathers), not merchandising mania, trusting Randolph's former agent (Danny DeVito) while befriending an over-the-hill boxer/restaurateur (Michael Rispoli) and his Irish Mafia sister (Pam Ferris). Meanwhile, the broke, homeless, revenge-obsessed Randolph declares, "Death to Smoochy!" - and shows the righteous rhino just how complicated and dangerous life outside the Magic Jungle can be by tricking him into performing at a Neo-Nazi convention. Directed like a crazed, two-dimensional cartoon by Danny DeVito from a screenplay by Adam Resnick, this is a crude, vulgar, R-rated black comedy so edgy, dark and warped that it's definitely NOT for children - culminating in a musical climax, a slick skating saga called "Smoochy on Ice." On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Death to Smoochy" is a demonic, flat-out funny 8. It's a hip, sophisticated adult comic strip with heart.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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