You, Me and Dupree
2006Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Cast: Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon, Kate Hudson
n one of the many Wedding Crashers-riffing trailers for You, Me and Dupree currently launching an assault on the American airwaves, the voice-over rolls out a list of awards adorned on what is admittedly a very strong cast. The film stars Academy Award nominees Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon, and Kate Hudson, it happily informs us, and isn’t it so funny that such talented people would star in a movie so unabashedly inane?
It’s not an unfamiliar strategy, an obvious gesture that even Hollywood’s finest needs a day off (think Jack Nicholson in Anger Management), but it’s never quite worked out the way the industry had in mind. The comedic vehicles in question are typically so haphazardly conceived that the big-name star’s presence alone is intended to carry the movie, and so the joke, as it were, is on us.
Even in a movie like You, Me and Dupree, where the three leads aren’t necessarily the biggest names in the mix, there comes a point when their presence is more an insult to injury than a pleasure. Even as bored-on-a-Sunday-afternoon midsummer comedies go, the film is an unmitigated disaster—miserable, unfunny, and depressing. Its sole apparent purpose is to cash in on the genre’s R-rated renaissance by securing Wilson in the lead, an irony that will not be lost on anyone expecting a film touting more than a PG-13 retread into tube-sock and Asian-fetish jokes.
The movie, which consists of at least three disparate plotlines that meet only by convention, never by logic, is at first a familiar retread of middle-aged slackerdom. It opens with a wedding, a pointless but inoffensive montage of inauspicious groom Carl (Dillon), drunk old friends (led by Wilson), a self-aggrandizing father-in-law (Michael Douglas), and beautiful trophy wife Molly (Hudson), and then proceeds intently to make its characters as insufferable as possible. Not a week after the newlyweds move into their first house, Dupree (Wilson), a roguish 30-something goofball who judges jobs based on their Columbus Day policy, comes knocking. He says he doesn’t want to impose, but of course he does, and does and does and does.
There is also the issue of said father-in-law, who happens to be Carl’s multimillionaire boss, and Dupree’s alter ego, an emotionally free-spirited poet named Randolph who seems close to stealing his best friend’s new wife. None of it makes any sense, yet here it is, jam-packed into a foundationless 108-minute movie, and the funny thing is, it feels as if nothing much happens at all. The structure is one trifling setup and payoff stacked on top of another, each new sequence a vexing contrivance with no obvious relation to the one that preceded it.
Even the charming, affable, otherwise congenial lead actors are reduced to unbearable stereotypes. Dillon, who remade a name for himself with last year’s Crash, mopes around with tiresome, self-pitying pretense, while Wilson, a sly if hit-or-miss performer, looks on with wide eyes as the screenplay reimagines his character every 25 pages. Doulgas, as a particularly banal caricature of the overbearing in-law, ages his career a good 15 years, and Hudson is wasted as just another pretty face.
The directors, brothers Anthony and Joe Russo, were two of the pioneers of Arrested Development, but their work here is sloppy and joyless. There’s not a single genuine or well-rooted moment in the screenplay or in its execution, and by the end, it’s almost too much to take. The movie closes at the same maddeningly nondescript place it began, the characters as vacant and carefree as ever, nothing gained, so much lost.
You, Me and Dupree is playing in theatres across the country.