July 9, 2006

“Dupree” a tired comic tale lamely told

By Kirk Honeycutt

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - If you are going to go
up against George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart ("The Man Who Came
to Dinner") and Jean Renoir ("Boudu Saved From Drowning") to
tell the old chestnut about an impossible house guest who will
not leave, then you'd better have the comedic and dramatic
goods. The team behind "You, Me and Dupree" -- directors
Anthony and Joe Russo and writer Michael Le Sieur -- do not.
The comedy is obvious and flat while the drama is stale. They
did do one thing right, however: They attracted a stellar cast.

Kate Hudson is every shade of winsome and adorable, while
Matt Dillon as her newlywed husband morphs believably from
likable, stand-up guy to anal-retentive jerk. Owen Wilson is
most definitely a slacker's slacker, and Michael Douglas is up
to old tricks as a wily father-in-law with an agenda.

So Universal can look forward to an above-average opening,
attracting largely female audiences. But the movie loses focus
about halfway through, and boxoffice will probably level off
around the $50 million range.

There is something about the "situation" in this situation
comedy that rings false. Molly (Hudson) and Carl (Dillon)
return from a Hawaiian wedding and honeymoon to discover that
Dupree (Wilson), Carl's best man and pal since apparently
kindergarten, is suddenly broke and homeless. Naturally, Carl
offers to let him stay at his house for "a couple of days" --
without consulting his new wife -- and you can pretty much tell
where the rest of the movie is going.

One problem, though, is the house itself. Carl works for
Molly's dad (Douglas), a real-estate tycoon, in a lower-echelon
job, but he and Molly have a dream home. Who paid for it? If
Dad did, there is nary a hint in the complicated dynamics among
father, daughter and son-in-law that occupy much of the movie.
If he didn't, then the well-to-do couple can afford to send
Dupree to a motel for a month or two while he gets his act
together rather than let him single-handedly destroy their
marriage through his adolescent antics.

But no, the movie wants to explore the many ways a
thirtysomething male, who has "never truly been domesticated"
can screw up a seemingly solid, healthy, loving marriage. None
of these shenanigans, which you have seen many times before, is
the least bit interesting. Indeed, Le Sieur's script strains to
come up with improbable acts for Dupree to commit.

Indifferently directed by the brothers Russo, the movie
must rely on the performing skills of an excellent cast. They
do as well as the story will allow. Wilson can play a goof like
nobody's business, and he puts terrific physical clowning into
the role.

The Hudson-Dillon relationship is more interesting for what
the movie leaves out than what it portrays. They seem unsuited
to each other, but then opposites do attract, so the
relationship is ripe with possibilities the movie fritters
away. And the fact that Carl has married the boss's daughter
yet can barely get past a scowling office security guard
(Sidney Liufau) each day speaks volumes about the two men's

Douglas, letting his hair grow magnificently white, is
"Wall Street's" Gordon Gekko grown older and mellower, into a
figure of comedy. Again, this is ripe territory that the movie
mostly ignores for jokes about backed-up toilets and
skateboarding accidents.

Some of the comedy just doesn't play. Carl can't possibly
think Dupree, who is nothing if not loyal, is hitting on his
wife. After all, Carl was the one who came home late, leaving
Dupree and Molly to share an intimate dinner for two. And would
Carl really keep his old porn collection lying around the
house? And if he would, what does that say about him?

The production feels overly calculated, with costumes and
design elements to "indicate" how you are supposed to feel
about characters, and extras and kids who populate the
newlyweds' street and seemingly swing into action at the sound
of a clapboard.


Dupree: Owen Wilson

Molly: Kate Hudson

Carl: Matt Dillon

Mr. Thompson: Michael Douglas

Neil: Seth Rogen

Annie: Amanda Detmer

Toshi: Ralph Ting

Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo; Writer: Michael Le
Sieur; Producers: Owen Wilson, Scott Stuber, Mary Parent;
Executive producers: Michael Fottrell, Sean Perrone, Aaron
Kaplan; Director of photography: Charles Minsky; Production
designer: Barry Robison; Music: Rolfe Kent; Costume designer:
Karen Patch; Editors: Peter B. Ellis, Debra Neil-Fisher.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter