Friday, July 14, 2006

You, Me, & Dupree

Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo
Written by Mike LeSieur

Universal looks to owe you money this weekend with their latest comedy. The studio probably figured they had it made this summer when they got Wedding Crasher Vince Vaughn in The Break-Up and then fellow crasher Owen Wilson in this flick. Somewhere in all of this celebration, coherence went out the door.

You, Me, and Dupree is a case study for me. Joe Moviegoer isn't looking for much out of a movie like this--just have some sort of laughs and he'll be happy. But for me, I have to have at least a little bit of a good story to go along with it, something that makes sense. Going from Point A to Point B, so hilarity can ensue for a good reason. So, I sat through this comedy utterly confused. I wasn't confused as to what action was taking place, but why the action was taking place. The editor, Peter B. Ellis, likely wondered if certain scenes were going to be filmed later to fill in the gaps--because nothing can explain to me the series of events. Let me confuse you for a second:

There's a wedding--Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) Peterson. Dupree (Wilson) is the best man, and he loses his job for taking the week off, unbeknownst to his boss, to be in attendance. Carl and Molly take Dupree in, and he promises to find a new job and be out of their hair. Of course, he's not. Meanwhile, Carl is having problems at work, a real estate firm. His boss is Mr. Thompson (Michael Douglas), also his new father-in-law. Mr. Thompson promotes his new son-in-law, but at the cost of his manhood at every turn--requests that Carl take the Thompson name, that he get a vasectomy, and a real estate project which Carl shepherded is quickly becoming a soul-sucking deal with the devil. Meanwhile, Dupree finds a way to screw up the Peterson household, culminating in part of the house going up in flames after a passionate tryst goes awry.

Dupree gets kicked out, but through a couple of ridiculous, come-on moments, is allowed back in the home, where he becomes a better man. Molly starts liking him better, and this leads to Carl believing, for whatever reason, that she's having an affair with him. We're supposed to believe that his pressure at work is getting to him and causing him to act erratically, but the Russos do a poor job of making this clear. We're just supposed to go along with it. I thought of that Bart Simpson quote, "I'd say the pressure is getting to Dad...but what pressure?"

Each subsequent action after this revelation that Carl thinks Dupree is sticking it to his wife is complete madcap nonsense--particularly a sequence of events where Mr. Thompson comes over for dinner and the following things happen with almost no context--Dupree falls off the roof trying to leave the house, another buddy Neil (the always funny Seth Rogen, who should be glad he's not in this more even though his presence would have saved a lot of this awful film) fishes through Carl's trash to retrieve some discarded porn, and Carl's imagination gets the better of him as he leaps across the dinner table to strangle his friend, culminating in Mr. Thompson hitting him with a candle holder. Furthermore, we all know Kate Hudson is a cool chick, and she plays a character who is extremely forgiving, but there's a point where you wonder why she puts up with it anymore.

Yeah, a mess. The Russos, surprisingly, have a fairly decent pedigree. What sticks out is they've done episodes of "Arrested Development." Which is all the more reason to wonder why they couldn't keep this together. And Michael Douglas has just gotten plain sad. This character is another version of his Gordon Gecko from Wall Street only after some jail time and a lobotomy. He's amusing at times, but you start to ask yourself, is it amusing because he's a well-conceived character, or is it because it's Michael Douglas?

Of course, maybe this all can be blamed on new screenwriter Mike LeSieur. But it's hard to figure out if the problems begin here, since so much of the movie seems cut and pasted--it's like one of those slide puzzles, many tiles are where they should be, but the other tiles are so far from their destination that you have to screw it all up again and start over to eventually make it work.


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