"Williams, Norton a scream in 'Smoochy'"
The Spokesman-Review.com
April 29, 2002
by Jenni Ross


"Death to Smoochy" is one of the weirdest movie's I've seen in a while, completely different from anything else showing in the theaters. It's aimed at an audience that likes twisted humor.

The movie begins with the lovable Rudolph Rainbow (Robin Williams) dancing and singing in his hit kid's TV show. The wonderful Rudolph isn't all that he seems, and after the FBI catches him selling a spot on his show, his life is destroyed. Strokes (Jon Stewart) and Nora (Catherine Keener), the network heads, suddenly need a new host (one with some integrity) and choose "Smoochy" (Edward Norton), who sings for druggies in rehab centers and promotes healthy and positive living.

Smoochy almost instantly shoots to the top, making Rudolph furious. Rudolph begins to plot Smoochy's fall and his own return to stardom.

For the most part, "Death to Smoochy" shows off its cast's amazing acting skills. Recalling Norton's serious character in "Fight Club" makes for a sharp contrast as you watch him sing in a rhino suit as Smoochy. Every line Williams said made me laugh. It's almost worth the ticket price just to watch these actors. Keener was the show's weak element. In fact, she was just downright pathetic. When her lines should have filled the theater with laughter, they instead brought sighs and bitter silence. On a bright note, her terrible acting made Norton, Devito and Williams look even better.

This film is filled with surprises. I anticipated the ending, but that was because the movie dragged on too long. The dialogue was hilarious but could be offensive to some.

The biggest problem with this movie is that I can't exactly describe its target audience. It's most definitely not a kids' film as any child who sees it would be sad and scared. At the same time, many adults wouldn't be able to relate to the film's themes or jokes. Also, many teens might find it a little too childish or "out-there." But as someone who normally doesn't like dark humor, I was surprised by the amount of things I found funny.

It's important to remember that this film was directed by Danny DeVito, which explains the creative camera angles, lighting and humor. It also assures that it's not meant to be taken seriously on any level.

If you're looking for a comedy that's a bit unusual, watch the entertaining "Death to Smoochy."

"Death to Smoochy" is playing at Coeur d'Alene Discount Cinemas.

Grade: B


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