Posted at 10:41 AM on July 13, 2006
by Euan Kerr
My beloved leaned towards me before the start of the new Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon, Kate Hudson vehicle "You, Me and Dupree" and said, "Let me guess..."
She hadn't seen anything more than the picture on the advance screening ticket, but she rattled off what she predicted we'd see in the next 90 minutes.
And darn it, if she wasn't completely right.
Of course, romantic comedy plot projections aren't that hard. The reason to go is to see the stars pull off virtuoso performances which delight and entertain us.
Unfortunately in Dupree's case, we have seen it all before.
Here's the story in a nutshell: Carl (Dillon) and Molly (Hudson) get married, even though their whacky best man Dupree (Wilson) flies to the wrong tropical island and almost misses the wedding. On returning from the honeymoon Carl find Dupree has messed some other stuff up too, and has lost his job, apartment, and car. He invites Dupree to stay for a few days, and problems ensue.
As Carl puts it at one point, Dupree "has never been truly domesticated."
Things are made worse by the fact that Carl's boss Mr Thompson, (Michael Douglas) is also Molly's dad. He's intent on running his new son-in-law through a "greed-is-good" trial-by-fire.
There are more complications, confrontations, a housefire, a bare butt, and a bunch of other stuff. Some of it is mildly amusing, some of it makes you cringe.
The characters are pretty much stock. Dillon plays the stressed, flawed with a heart of gold, hunk, who has problems with communication both with his wife and his boss. Hudson prances in and out, smiling or scowling as appropriate, but never really engaging, and Wilson plays Owen Wilson.
There is one thing that is truly strange however. While there are a few female characters in this film, other than Molly, they are all bit parts. Dupree falls in love, and the object of his desires even appears on screen, but we never see her face. Did someone end up on the cutting room floor?
There's a telling moment when Dupree talks about how he's realizing that he's always trying to play the lovable screw-up (only he doesn't say "screw-up.") Dillon looks at him and says, "Not so lovable."
Ain't that the truth?
I thought for certain though that the movie would go the way of Dupree (Wilson) making their lives miserable until it caused the two Carl and Molly to form and unholy alliance to extricate him from the house.
But along the way, something odd happened. Douglas as molly'd dad emasculates and works Dillon's character so hard that he shuts out his wife. In effect, they are splicing too different plot premises together which I was happier about than if it went the first route.
I think Wilson's character is the lovable screw-up and the movie actually deals with the issue of people who seem to float through life without any "real" ambition.
It was also great to see Wilson dealing with kids in this movie. I think in the future they really should think of doing a movie with him as a teacher.
It wasn't as good as Wedding Crashers, but it wasn't Shanghai Knights either or I-Spy.
I went to see "Cars" with my nephew over the weekend, and found Wilson's performance much more managable as a NASCAR vehicle than in "Dupree."
I realize this is a little unrealistic, but I'd really like to see him try something very different. A tragedy perhaps? It could even have a few one-liners. Or even a drama. When he played the ex-boyfriend in "Meet the Fockers," now that was good.