You, Me and Dupree
Directed by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Starring Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon, Kate Hudson, Michael Douglas. (2006, PG-13, 108 min.)
REVIEWED By Brian Clark, Fri., July 14, 2006
Studios probably gave You, Me and Dupree a green light without even reading a script. Imagine the pitch: “It’s a wacky comedy with Owen Wilson, fresh off last summer’s megahit The Wedding Crashers! And hey, there’s a wedding in it!” At this point, the execs likely respond, “Here’s $50 million. Deliver a funny trailer and make sure to show that wedding.” To point, the actual quality of You, Me and Dupree probably won’t impact its opening weekend gross. So, it’s a nice surprise that the filmmakers and cast deliver a funny, reasonably well-written diversion with some impressive acting and refreshing bits of realism. Wilson carries the film as Randolph Dupree, a gainfully unemployed idealist who moves in with his newlywed best friend, Carl (Dillon), and Carl's wife, Molly (Hudson) after losing his apartment. At first, the film adheres closely to an episodic formula: Dupree screws up, Molly gets mad, the couple threatens to kick Dupree out, then ultimately reconsiders because, dammit, he’s so lovable. However, first-time writer Mike LeSieur eventually offers some inventive twists in character dynamics that the trailer never hints at. Mostly though, the film benefits from a fine cast that puts more effort into their roles than they probably need to. Wilson ratchets up the charm and crafts a character who is infinitely more likable than his sleazebag-turned-sensitive guy in The Wedding Crashers. He keeps Dupree mostly anchored in reality, which is no small feat in this sort of comedy. Dillon and Hudson also go above and beyond, lending some genuine emotion and complexity to their grounded characters. Even Douglas seems like he’s earning his paycheck, though his role as Molly’s surly father proves mostly unnecessary. However, there’s a tension throughout the film that threatens to sink it. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (who previously directed TV, most notably several episodes of Arrested Development) clearly want to develop realistic characters and they take the film’s premise beyond the comic mayhem seen in the trailer. But it seems they also want to make money. Lots of it. And so, for every scene that feels natural there’s another that’s obviously scripted to keep the film’s target audience (i.e., those still quoting The Wedding Crashers) within their comfort zone. It’s an awkward mix that culminates in a drawn-out, by-the-numbers conclusion where Dupree saves the day and everyone ends up ecstatic with their position in life. Not that the film needed to head into darker territory, but sidestepping even half of the clichés of the final act might have kept the film from feeling so uneven and disposable. But, as far as disposable entertainment goes, it gets the job done.