Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.
USA/United Kingdom/Germany, 2002. Warner Bros., FilmFour, Senator Film Produktion, Mad Chance, Jersey Films. Screenplay by Adam Resnick. Cinematography by Anastas N. Michos. Produced by Andrew Lazar, Peter Macgregor-Scott. Music by David Newman. Production Design by Howard Cummings. Costume Design by Jane Ruhm. Film Editing by Jon Poll.
It’s hard to imagine movies sinking lower in quality than this listless comedy directed by Danny DeVito. Robin Williams plays a children’s show host whose career is destroyed when his illegal financial practices are revealed by the FBI. He is replaced by a total hack, a purple rhinoceros named Smoochy (Edward Norton) who sings politically conscious songs to children and encourages them to eat well and not indulge in negative energy. Williams, now gone completely insane, makes it his mission to take the rhino out and get his job back. This crazy predecessor isn’t all Norton has to worry about though, because it seems there are also other network head honchos (including Jon Stewart and Harvey Fierstein) who need to be kept happy or else the rhino loses his horns. Catherine Keener‘s sexy performance as the bitter television executive who has a thing for kids’ show characters is the only reason to watch this film, and even then only for the first half of the movie: after she becomes smitten with Smoochy her character becomes annoyingly sappy. Norton himself is devilishly cute, delivering the film’s best lines brilliantly, but the messages his character are spouting are so lost in the mess of this terrible film that he is eventually ineffective as a performer, despite his best efforts. Director Danny DeVito (who also stars) tries to bring the deft whacky humour that served him so well in Matilda, but the stale script by Adam Resnick, that switches between too many subplots and never seems to end, fails him at every turn.