Death to Smoochy

Bomb Rating: 

Isn't this film about two years too late? The whole idea of taking Barney and tossing him under a moving semi truck just isn't as funny or timely as it was back in the Stone Age. One presumes the studio executives or Danny Devito or whoever finally made this movie only did so after they test marketed the piss out of the idea to ensure that killing a children's television character wouldn't offend the little old lady in Columbus who kept punching out the "yes" hole on the "Are you offended?" punch card because she thought she was going to get some free laxative. Finally, she croaked, sending the margin of error down to zero, the only acceptable place where execs will finally green light a dark comedy.

Apparently, Warner Brothers and the makers of "Death to Smoochy" are being sued by some guy who's famous among three-year-olds because he dresses up in a stuffed rhino suit and resembles the Smoochy (Ed Norton) character in some way. In a certain case of life imitating art, I'm anxious to see how much noise this guy can make before his body parts end up providing breakfast burrito filling at Wolfgang Puck's.

In this film, the clean-as-a-whistle Smoochy replaces Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) after Randolph gets caught red-handed in a crime. Randolph then becomes psychotic and makes it his life's mission to kill Smoochy. Meanwhile, Smoochy has his hands full with the TV executives, Nora (Catherine Keener) and Frank (Jon Stewart), who don't care for his cleaner-than-thou attitude. This forces Smoochy, whose real name is Sheldon Mopes, to get an agent (Danny DeVito).

Frankly, I've about had it with these insider films. I don't care what happens in the world of television or how bizarre people really are. Maybe Danny DeVito knows funny in the context of a marriage or a mother-son relationship, but all these characters are exaggerated beyond comprehension. Nora hates Sheldon for no apparent reason. Randolph goes over the edge faster than Martin Lawrence on a coke binge, and pretty much everyone else is one polar extreme or another. The whole thing is less a commentary on children's television than it is on the fact that people in Hollywood have almost zero grasp of how humans interact in the real world.

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