You, Me and Dupree Review
By Joe Lozito
Guest Who's Coming to Dinner
The worst thing I could say about the guest-who-wouldn't-leave comedy "You, Me and Dupree" is that - like its lead character - it overstays its welcome. "Dupree" isn't that bad, but it does have something in common with the lovable titular man-boy played by Owen Wilson: somewhere inside this scattershot comedy there's a sweet, sincere story trying to break free. If you look past the (literal) toilet humor, masturbation jokes and gratuitous porn references, there's the tale of a single guy with a big heart who watches his friends get married while he desperately clings to his childhood. But that probably wouldn't sell as many tickets.
There's nearly a subgenre of comedies to which this film owes a great deal. Everyone from Kaufman and Hart ("The Man Who Came To Dinner") to Sinbad ("Houseguest") has played with the formula: quirky friend needs a place to stay, boorish behavior quickly makes him a nuisance, doormat/protagonist forces him to leave, friend changes his ways to everyone's benefit. "Dupree" doesn't do much more with this recipe except throw some big ticket stars at it.
Directors Joe and Anthony Russo approach the material - written by first-timer Mike LeSieur - at the sitcom level to which it belongs. Being veterans of the wildly funny, unfairly cancelled "Arrested Development", they do a pretty good job with it. Before we know it, Carl and Molly (Matt Dillon and Kate Hudon) have tied the knot and moved into their inexplicably beautiful (she's a teacher, he's in real estate) suburban home. No sooner has he carried her over the threshold than Carl's best friend (and best man) Dupree ends up on their couch.
It's no wonder that "Dupree" was co-produced by Mr. Wilson; the film is a springboard for his patented surfer-dude sense of humor. But while Mr. Wilson is a likeable guy in small (re: supporting) doses, a whole movie's worth of his shtick can become tiresome. It worked in "Wedding Crashers"
, which added Vince Vaughn's biting, hyperactive sarcasm to cut the taste of Mr. Wilson's goofy wonderment. But in "Dupree", Matt Dillon is miscast in the role that was surely offered to Ben Stiller, or maybe Mr. Vaughn himself. In fact, in different hands, "Dupree" could have been a sequel to "Wedding Crashers", following the characters into wedlock and beyond.
Kate Hudson, on the other hand, is in a completely different movie. And a much better one at that. Freed from rote tripe that she had detoured into since she shone in "Almost Famous"
, "Raising Helen", "Le Divorce", "Alex & Emma", "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days". Wow, that's a long list), Ms. Hudson positively shines as Molly. Begging for the chance to show that she possesses the charm and charisma of her mother, Ms. Hudson imbues each scene with her inherent likeability; it's almost impossible not to smile when she's on screen. She deserves a film that will show that off, though. Someone please write her a "Seems Like Old Times" that she can sink her teeth into.
As Mr. LeSieur's script ekes its way through its plot machinations (the guy's night out, the walking-in-on-Dupree-naked scene, etc), it hits a few inspired notes, particularly an extended chase with a security guard that gives the latter half of the film a much-needed jolt. Michael Douglas is also on-hand to add some gravitas to the proceedings, settling nicely into the role of Molly's oppressive dad.
"You, Me and Dupree" twists itself into knots trying to get you to like it, but the film doesn't quite gel. The characters are never more than one dimensional and Mr. Dillon is just too strapping to appear as put-upon as the film needs him to be; when he hits the breaking point, it's more scary than funny. "Dupree" is a harmless comedy with a few cute moments but, to compare it to its lead character one more time, it could be a lot more if it just applied itself.