Monday, November 27, 2006

You, Me and Dupree

Directors: Anthony and Joe Russo
Starring: Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Matt Dillion, Michael Douglas, Seth Rogen

Running Time: 108 min.

Rating: PG-13

*** (out of ****)

Over the past month I've had the pleasure (or in one case the displeasure) of sitting through the comedies Nacho Libre, Accepted and now You, Me and Dupree. If you had told me a month ago that You, Me and Dupree would easily be the funniest and best of the three I'd say you were insane. But it is. It takes a realistic, relatable premise and mines comic gold from it proving that good comedies work if we like the characters and don't mind spending two hours with them, no matter how stupid they may be. It's also the first time Owen Wilson pretty much has a movie all to himself and boy does he ever take advantage of it. More importantly, it marks the first time in six years Kate Hudson is in a movie that's any good and gives us a peek again of the qualities that made her so memorable in Almost Famous. It's great seeing four very talented big name actors having such a good time.

Things couldn't be better for Carl Peterson (Matt Dillion) and Molly Thompson (Hudson). They just got married in a beautiful ceremony in Hawaii, Carl was given a huge promotion at his land development job by Molly's dad (a hilariously deadpan Michael Douglas) and they're all set to start their new lives together. There's only one problem: Randy Dupree (Wilson). Carl's infantile best friend was just fired from his job and living in a cot at the local bar when Carl suggests he move in with him and Molly. With moose head in hand Dupree crashes at their place promising to get out as soon as he lands a new job. Initially this is a good idea, until they discover Dupree is the most annoying, insane individual anyone could ever possibly have in their home. He's essentially the houseguest from hell.

Throughout the course of this film we witness Dupree do the following: Stop up the toilet, sleep bare-ass in their living room, change their answering machine message, masturbate to Asian porn, do unspeakable things involving butter and the school librarian on the couch, build a skate ramp in the front yard, and burn down half their house. All of this makes Dupree sound like he's a sick, depraved human being, but the beauty of the movie is that he's not. The way Wilson plays him you can't help but like the guy and you understand why they'd give him chance after chance. He's like a grown-up kid who's just trying to help and has no idea what he's doing wrong. When Carl suspects Dupree is moving in on his wife the movie takes an interesting and smart turn. Pretty soon Carl and Molly are forced to face the facts that Dupree isn't the problem with their marriage at all. Let's face it: Any guy married to Kate Hudson who feels the need to house a giant collection of Asian porn deserves to be called out on it. Dupree's the best friend he's got. It would have been easy for a lesser comedy to portray Dupree as jealous loser trying to wreck Carl's marriage.

One of the funniest sub-plots involves Michael Douglas, as Molly's dad, wanting Carl to have a vasectomy and insanely urging him to take Molly's last name when they're married. This leads to one of the best jokes of the movie when Carl walks to his office and the door reads: "Carl Peterson-Thompson." Admit it, that's pretty funny. I loved the way Douglas played the character completely straight as he made these ridiculous requests and the put upon look Matt Dillion had on his face the entire film. It reminded me that Douglas, while a great dramatic actor, also has a dry sense of humor that works well in comedies. He should do more of them.

It was so great to fnally see Hudson playing an energetic, exciting, interesting character again. These are exactly the kinds of roles she should be taking instead of depressing dreck like The Skeleton Key. The movie does commit the crime of underusing the hilarious Seth Rogen (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and having an ending that's contrived and sappy, but honestly, the movie does kind of earn it. I should mention there's a dream sequence in this movie featuring a cameo from Lance Armstrong that literally had me on the floor in pain I was laughing so hard. Nearly everything in this works and that's in no small part due to the efforts of the actors who are all at the top of their games here. With all the crappy comedies out there these days it's a nice change to see one that's, you know, actually funny.

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