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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Michael Douglas
DIRECTOR
Joe and Anthony Russo
SCREENPLAY
Mike LeSieur
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
108 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Universal
 "You, Me & Dupree" Review 
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After a few minutes of relatively charming banter and a few modest laughs, "You, Me and Dupree" quickly disintegrates into a hodgepodge of lame humor, insincere sincerity, outlandishly unrealistic situations and, perhaps most sadly, a comedy virtually devoid of genuine laughs.

The film centers around Dupree, yet another in a long line of slacker roles for hippie extraordinaire Owen Wilson. Dupree serves as the best man at the wedding between his best friend, Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson). What starts as an easygoing, pleasant comedy rapidly evolves (or in this case "devolves") into a sub-moronic spin on the "unwanted guest" movie.

Dupree loses his job, and Molly and Carl begin to play host to a best friend who, in Carl's words, "has never really been domesticated."

Duh.

The problems with "You, Me and Dupree" are so immense it's difficult to know where to begin.

Hmmmm. Good place to start?

Where's Ben Stiller when we need him?

Seriously. The "buddy" chemistry between Dillon and Wilson is modest at best. More often than not, their exchanges will have you hoping and praying for even just an appearance from Stiller or that hilarious wedding crasher, Vince Vaughn. Unfortunately, no cameo is to be had and we are left to continuously buy into a friendship that is based on a premise impossible to buy (lifelong "best friends") or buy into a friendship that is dysfunctional, abusive and anything but funny.

The situations we are forced to endure? Hmmm. C'mon, do you really need to hear it? You KNOW what happens here. It's not even a plot spoiler to mention these things...quite literally, everything that happens here is predictable ranging from the interruption of Carl and Molly having sex to conflicts with Molly's father (Michael Douglas) and, finally, to the outrageusly boorish behavior of Carl when he becomes overworked, exhausted and, in the film's most tepid scenes, jealous over alleged flirtations between Molly and Dupree.

Oh, Please.

By the film's climax, Carl's behavior has become so fundamentally wrong that the predictable conclusion rings false and feels akin to a woman returning to her abusive boyfriend/spouse. This scene, which includes the big screen's worst possible use of Coldplay's "Fix You," is awkward, uncomfortable and so amazingly empty of emotion that it barely qualifies as resolution.

Throughout "You, Me and Dupree," the film "Meet the Parents," and to a lesser degree even "Meet the Fockers" kept coming to mind. While the storylines are not similar, the relationships, scenarios and family dynamics shared many common characteristics. In both of the "Meet" films, the comical scenes were funny because even the outrageously impossible scenes developed naturally from the relationships between the people. The "Meet" films largely worked because the tenderness, outrageousness and humor were all byproducts of the relationships.

In "You, Me and Dupree" it feels just the opposite. The characters and relationships appear developed for the sole purpose of plot exposition, outrageousness and humor. The connection between the characters is never established and, thus, it becomes nearly impossible to care, to accept, to surrender and, most importantly, to laugh.

This isn't funny. This is just plain sad...and just plain boring.

Owen Wilson is certainly functional and, at times, even downright amusing as Dupree. Of course, Wilson has played this character before...often. Very often. However, Wilson is strongest when he has a manic or intense energy to play against in a film. Wilson, who should have been marvelous in this role, is simply unable to successfully carry off being a film's core energy and focus (Anyone remember "The Big Bounce?). While Dupree is initially kind of charming, by the end of "You, Me and Dupree" it becomes impossible to fathom how anyone could have tolerated his pathetic behavior for so long. His attempts to make amends ring hollow and insincere.

Matt Dillon, too, is simply miscast in a role that practically begged out for the self-deprecating, manic lunacy of an actor like Ben Stiller. Dillon's segue from lovestruck honeymooner to "whipped" employee of Molly's father to raving lunatic and back again is awkward, inconsistent and, at times, just embarrassing. Dillon showed the world he can act in last year's Oscar-nominated performance in "Crash." In "You, Me and Dupree," Dillon takes a giant step backward back into the type of role that kept him off the "A" list in the first place.

"You, Me and Dupree" would be a complete and utter disaster were it not for the utterly charming, relaxed and warm performance from Kate Hudson. Hudson, with her girl next door looks, winning smile and natural film presence rescues the film with a performance that brings to mind her wondrous performance in "Almost Famous." It's a powerful testimony to Hudson's acting that she's able to produce such a resonating, sincere performance from an underwritten role in a film that doesn't give her nearly enough chances to shine.

Michael Douglas offers his usual fine performance as Molly's father, a high-powered land developer who sabotages his daughter's new marriage in nearly every waking moment. His performance is a cross between Gordon Gekko and Robert Deniro's performances in the "Meet" films.

The script, by first time screenwriter Mike LeSieur, is your run-of-the-mill "unwanted guest" film with ever so slight touches of romantic comedy and moral lesson. While it is not particularly awful, neither is the script particularly memorable.

Odd decisions plague the film's production design, ranging from camera shots that cut away from a person talking to the odd decision to have Dupree, in what becomes a key storyline, fall in "love" with a woman whom the audience is never allowed to see, meet or, once again, establish any sort of connection with during the film. The more outlandish the scenes involving her become, the more obvious her absence becomes.

"You, Me and Dupree" could have, quite easily been a funny and touching romantic comedy with strong box-office. Instead, "You, Me and Dupree" is an exercise in how NOT to make a romantic comedy. With only modest chemistry between its leads, "You, Me and Dupree" feels constantly forced and its humor contrived.

Blessed by a surprisingly heartfelt, rich and authentic performance from Kate Hudson, "You, Me and Dupree" almost works thanks largely to her warm, convincing performance. However, Hudson isn't quite able to carry the film alone and "You, Me and Dupree" ends up being the very worst kind of romantic comedy...a boring one. "You, Me and Dupree" is likely destined for a short theatrical run after a modestly successful opening weekend.
 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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