One of my favorite genres in movies are dark comedies - except that my love of the genre can't translate normally. Which is why I usually watch these kinds of movies alone, because I do find them hilarious, and I feel that the people with me will ultimately think I'm crazy and a loon for laughing or smiling. I have more to discover in terms of the genre, but ultimately, I've been enjoying the ones I've seen. Death to Smoochy has been one of them. After the passing of Robin Williams, I've been reading a few posts about him, and the movies and performances various people liked, and this appeared from one of them. The title in particular caught my eye, and I wasn't disappointed with what I saw.
The film starts off with a rhino mascot getting beaten and eventually killed, a strange sight considering he's a mascot on a television show. The movie eventually reveals the story between Rainbow Randolph and Smoochy the Rhino. Randolph was the big star, the child entertainer who got busted for accepting bribes, leading to his demise from the show. To replace him, the producers hired Smoochy, particularly because of his clean record. Smoochy's show immediately soared, making him quite popular much to Randolph's dismay. Smoochy's success then became the seed that pushes Randolph to reclaim his spot on television and put the end to the rhino. A tale of revenge won't be prolonged without the tiny details. Unknown to Smoochy, there was a different world in the industry he entered, a world that certainly makes things interesting to the characters.
The plot itself is very intertwined - the revenge plot simply isn't enough, and the other dealings are added to bring more juice to the movie. Does it make for a good story? At a certain point, it does, but there's an absurdity added to it. Like, if there were dealings happening between the show and a third party, shouldn't be the entire studio or the entire company be in on it? I don't think it's possible for a negotiation that seedy to materialize without the knowledge of the people upstairs, especially if said negotiation is making money. With all the events going on, the movie was a little longer than I expected, with some scenes verging on repeat.
What makes the movie delightful however, is the combined performance between Robin Williams and Edward Norton. Robin Williams was fantastically crazy. His character (when on television) could use less creepy looking make-up, but Williams hit a good note with this one. He doesn't fail to steal his scenes, and the stunts his character pulls are very way out of line, something that suits the wild and crazy character of Rainbow Randolph.
I actually thought that this was a Sam Rockwell vehicle, considering that Smoochy the Rhino seems like a Rockwell-kind of role. Still, Norton hit it perfectly. His character seemed very gullible, but is an all around nice guy. He's smart, he's made for entertainment, the way he quickly jumps to save a mistake around his show. He's a friendly person, and has a positive outlook. He stands out from the bleak world of entertainment, which makes the character an enjoyable addition to the movie. Norton gave a fine performance of that calm character, that even if he was the contrast of Williams, both actors worked really well together.
There were scenes that were amusing, but there were also some that were trying to be funny. Nonetheless, I thought that everything blended well together, and the hasty mistakes of the film were made up by the two leads. I think it's one of their underrated works, but I liked it,
Final Word: It had its moments, and it doesn't fail to entertain.
Cast: Robin Williams, Edward Norton, Catherine Keener
Director: Danny DeVito