You, Me and Dupree full movie review - Funny at times, but stale overall
Riding off the surprising popularity of Wedding Crashers, it would seem like Owen Wilson could have chose anything to do next.
So besides lending his voice to an animated kids film (Cars), he chose another comedy in You, Me and Dupree, and is playing his usual lovable loser character that he has perfected in a few too many films now (much like Ben Stiller has neurotic wimp and blithering crazy idiot down pat and not much else). And much like Wilson's performance, this film is feeling a bit too stale for its own good.
After a wonderful wedding in Hawaii, newlyweds Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) come back home only to find out that Carl's best friend and best man Dupree (Wilson) has had a lot of bad luck. As a result of taking unscheduled time off for the wedding, Dupree has simultaneously lost his job, his car and his house. Feeling bad, the couple take him into their new home, and as anyone could possibly predict, things do not go all too well. Mounting pressure from Carl's boss and father-in-law Mr. Thompson (Michael Douglas) is not helping things either.
The set-up is not all too original, and the results are even less inspiring. At just about every turn, you can predict what is coming. This sort of comedy has just been done over and over again on film and television. When it was still an original concept, hilarity ensued. Now, it just feels like an all too clever homage to something that is infinitely better. First time writer Michael LaSieur obviously had good intentions with this screenplay, they just never get realized. Everything just feels so stale and overdone that when moments come that should be downright hilarious, just end up being mildly humorous if anything at all. It is a weak film trying to pass it off as something better, only failing harder as a result. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo seem unable to tell the difference, so their directing becomes a bit too incompetent and spiritless.
I have to admit though, there were more than a handful of funny parts, and despite being fairly shallowly written and directed, it was a far better film than The Break-Up with Crashers alumni Vince Vaughn. I was also impressed with what they got away with on a PG-13 rating. I was surprised in a few instances by some of the content, and could have sworn it could only get in if the film was R-rated. Apparently I am living way too far in the past.
Wilson, as said earlier, is basically playing a character he has done over and over again. His material feels just as worn as the film, and it just does not look like he is even making an effort here. His lovable loser has been brought down to just being a loser. Never do you really feel any emotional attachment to this guy, even when everything is really coming down on him. He is just annoying, and much like the characters in the film, you want him to leave, and leave quickly. He has no quirks; he is just a carbon copy of any previous Wilson character all mashed into one incomprehensible character. Owen, when you are down to masturbating in a joke that is not funny even to the filmmakers, you should begin to think that maybe you need to rethink your shtick.
Dillon, fresh from an Oscar-nominated turn in Crash, fares even worse. He is clearly out of place here, and has no character direction whatsoever. He just keeps changing tunes throughout the film, and never does his character seem to know what he wants to do. Bad characterization/story or is he just playing the character really well? Maybe a bit of both, but the fact that there is basically zero focus on what this character is really doing makes for Dillon to just look like an ass for the majority of the film. He clearly cannot compete with any sort of comic timing Wilson has, so he just has to sit back and be humiliated.
Hudson is basically useless in her role. She brings virtually nothing to the table as Molly, and her few lines and actions really are only used to move the plot forward. What is interesting with her character is that there are other female characters mentioned and even have voices, but you never physically see them focused on screen. They are usually off screen, or hidden/obscured by something. Yet there is no trouble showing Hudson at all. It struck me as both odd and interesting all at once.
Douglas on the other hand, is particularly amusing as the crazy father-in-law, frequently becoming an enigma of purely random dialogue and actions. He just seems to be saying things, and hoping that they will stick as being funny. But at times, you can tell even he is wondering what he is doing there to begin with. But it is Seth Rogen (of The 40-Year-Old Virgin), playing Carl and Dupree's friend Neil, who really shines throughout the film. He steals every scene he is in, and is just a riot to watch. Everyone should take a lesson from this guy's subtle and goofy performance. He is the one who makes this film watchable and anywhere decent at all. I would hope for him to start getting his own films, but I think he is best left as a supporting character.
On the whole, the film has some really funny moments, but it just feels stale and tired on the whole. This idea has been overdone too many times now, and just could have done with a whole reworking. The four main actors are all weak in their performances, and they only make the script feel even worse. This could have been done far better and stronger if it had a much better screenplay and competent directors to start with.