Film Review - YOU, ME AND DUPREE - By Ruth Sharpe.jpg

Film Review – YOU, ME AND DUPREE – By Ruth Sharpe

Owen Wilson triumphs again

WITH A cast lineup including Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon, Kate Hudson and Michael Douglas, You, Me and Dupree is expected to be one of the year’s best comedies, on a par with last year’s The Wedding Crashers and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but will it live up to the expected hype?

Matt Dillon stars as Carl, a worker at a land development company, who has married the boss’s beautiful daughter, Molly (Hudson). He should be on top of the world, but his new father-in-law, Mr. Thompson (Douglas), hates him and seems to be trying to undermine his marriage at every turn, and destroy his precious project at work. Adding to the trouble, Carl’s best man, Dupree (Wilson), has lost his job, apartment and car, so he has been staying with the newlyweds, well past the point where he has overstayed his welcome. 

Thus, the two running themes throughout the film are presented – will Dupree drive Carl and Molly crazy? And, can their marriage withstand Dupree and Mr. Thompson?

Although simplistic and not screaming originality, the film is funny, revolving mainly around Wilson and his portrayal of the ultimate slacker, Dupree. With his laid-back charm and goofy comic appeal, Wilson makes us warm to Randolph Dupree, even though this childlike man sometimes engages in obnoxious behaviour that threatens to break up his best friend’s new marriage. Sadly, Wilson is the only source of humour in the film, and even his character seems weak without someone like Vince Vaughn or Ben Stiller to play-off.

The film has been received with despair by the majority of reviewers, who see the film as weak, pointless and boring. It may be the case that the romantic comedy is a dying breed, however, between them, the three main characters have performed in some of the genre’s best offerings – How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Starsky and Hutch, and There’s Something about Mary, but the mediocre material in the script gives them very little to work with.

A further reason the film may have been received so negatively, is the obvious lack of female action on the screen. Hudson is the only female character to make an appearance in the movie, and the production has been slated by feminists, because the other characters seem to portray women in a negative light. Seeing as females make up the majority of audiences who go to see romantic comedies, it may not have been the best move by the casting and writing teams.

Those who have given the film more positive reviews have described it as a smarter version of this summer’s The Break Up. Carl and Molly fight and yell, and their relationship threatens to splinter; meanwhile, Dupree becomes a stand-up guy, to the point where Carl suspects him of moving in on his wife. Much of this is covering old ground, but what is surprising is the way these characters grow on you. As Dupree shoehorns himself into Carl’s home, barges into his bedroom at inopportune moments and accidentally burns down his living room, you do wonder about the real strength of Carl and Dupree’s friendship, but, thankfully, they do start to come through for each other as the film builds towards its conclusion.

You, Me and Dupree is interesting in the skillful way it splits our sympathies. First-time screenwriter Mike LaSieur works hard to give each of his characters a perspective we can understand and Hudson’s arguments with Dillon have a real edge to them.

LaSieur and directors Anthony and Joe Russo play it safe, by limiting the humor to inoffensive slapstick. Wilson essentially brings back his character from The Wedding Crashers, while channeling a certain amount of Jack Black. It’s passably funny without taking any risks and the comedy is everything you would expect from a summer Owen Wilson film.

Any insights the film accumulates are ditched in the formulaic-as-can-be conclusion, which depends on wedding vow platitudes to move us along to the end credits. Essentially, Owen Wilson is in control of this movie, and he does bring the film out of mediocrity. He can’t play the dazed rogue forever, but for now he is the happy master of that domain.

RATING: * * *

*   missable

* *   reasonable

* * *   entertaining

* * * *   very good

* * * * * outstanding