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REVIEW: You, Me and Dupree

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If you watch You, Me, and Dupree really closely — not that I’d encourage you to do so — you can almost see the film it might have been. The film playing on-screen is bland, messy and profoundly uninspired, but every once in a while something peeks through that suggests a darker spin on this clichéd tale might have worked better.
    
You know the story by now: Thirty-something slacker Dupree (Owen Wilson), left without a job or a home, crashes with his newlywed best friend Carl (Matt Dillon) and his wife (Kate Hudson), and proceeds to wreck their lives in a variety of uninteresting ways — sleeping naked on the sofa, changing the outgoing voicemail message and clogging the toilet. (Shouldn’t these characters know better by now? If this is an American comedy, somebody‘s going to be clogging a toilet.) Then of course there’s the bride’s domineering father-in-law (Michael Douglas), who is also Carl’s boss, and who wants him to get a vasectomy. Why? Because he’s, uh, protective of his daughter. Call me when that begins to make sense.

    
The trouble is that You, Me, and Dupree has no business trying to be a breezy comedy. Despite its high-concept setup, this is the stuff of genuine black comedy. And the film occasionally seems headed in that direction — surely they didn’t cast Matt Dillon as a straight man thinking he was going to bring some kind of Average Joe charm to the table. The film plays Carl’s secret stash of Asian porn and his paranoia about Dupree and his wife as throw-away plot devices, and yet there’s a hint that more could be made of these. Similarly, Douglas’s slick patronizing could have gone significantly further. He shows up only briefly in the first half, then proceeds to take over the entire final act, as if somebody realized the movie needed a nominal villain. It all makes for a tremendous missed opportunity, 108 minutes of programmed back-and-forth with nary a real laugh in sight. — Bilge Ebiri

REVIEW: The Groomsmen
The Groomsmen

There are certain things Edward Burns will never be able to do — writing believable female characters heads that list — and certain things that, under the right circumstances, he does very well — writing compelling guy talk, for example. This is probably what makes him at times such a divisive figure: when a filmmaker exhibits expertise in particular areas, his shortcomings in other areas have a tendency to stand out. Luckily, Burns’s new film is called The Groomsmen, and there doesn’t appear to be a bridesmaid in sight, so he’s operating in his element.
    This time, the story focuses on soon-to-be-a-father-and-husband Paulie (Burns), a successful thirty-something guy who appears to have never left his suburban New York neighborhood, keeping in close contact with his closest buds, the groomsmen of the title. These are morose brother Jimbo (Donal Logue), unreliable, short-fused cousin Mike (Jay Mohr) and unrepentant family man Dez (Matthew Lillard). Another old chum, T.C. (John Leguizamo) comes back to town to join in the festivities, after years spent away.

    Needless to say, there’s a reason why T.C. left. There’s also a reason why Jimbo is so downcast, and there’s also a reason why Mike is such a fuckup. As with Burns’s breakout The Brothers McMullen, there are a number of vaguely soap opera-ish subplots here, but the real pleasure of the film is in watching these actors trade barbs and pal around the way middle-class suburban New York guys presumably do. It’s to Burns’s credit as a director that he gets genuinely touching performances out of actors previously known for just playing goofballs — Lillard, in particular, makes for a shockingly engaging father of two and an unlikely dispenser of paternal wisdom. It’s far from perfect, but The Groomsmen might be Burns’s most charming movie in years. — Bilge Ebiri

REVIEW: The Oh in Ohio
The Oh in OhioPaul
Rudd and Parker Posey have never let their good looks get in
the way of a scene; they’re two of the least self-conscious,
and funniest, actors around. So it’s hard not to feel like they’re
holding back in The Oh in Ohio, the oddly demure sex
comedy from first-time director Billy Kent. The film tells the
story of a Cleveland businesswoman (Posey) with "chronic
sexual dysfunction" and the husband (Rudd) who takes her
frigidity as a personal insult. Taken to their furthest extreme,
these characters might have illuminated the finer hypocrisies
of America’s sexual attitude. But instead of letting Posey and
Rudd duke it out — or have anything resembling actual sex — the
script saddles them with self-referential dialogue (“I’m involved
in a love triangle with a younger, fitter rival!") and extraneous
supporting characters. The film’s sharpest moment comes courtesy
of Liza Minelli, whose dead-on Eve Ensler impression ("Liberate
your labia! Claim your clitoris!") holds nothing back. But
overall, The Oh in Ohio has the same problem as Posey’s
character: it’s too self-conscious to really let go and enjoy
itself. — Gwynne Watkins
DATE DVD: Femme Fatale Collection
Femme Fatale CollectionIt’s
hard to pick the right bad movie, particularly the right bad
sex movie. You might be tempted to rent Sharon Stone’s Basic
Instinct 2
just to see how horrible it really is, but
it’s not terrible in a can’t-believe-it, too-funny, drinking-game
way, like Gigli or that other Stone classic, Catwoman.
In Basic Instinct 2, Stone’s just self-obsessed and pathetic. The whole thing plays
like some reality-TV career-resuscitation show, only with lower
production values. If you must, you can watch all the naughty
bits on one of those bootlegged trailers online (and believe
me, you don’t want to see this stuff in higher resolution)
before picking another bad flick that at least offers some
naughty fun. The cheapo box-set Femme Fatale Collection has
three — and they’re all subtext-free. The women of The
Astounding She-Monster
, Mesa of Lost Women and The
Devil Girl From Mars
aren’t exactly classic femmes fatales
of noir. The She-Monster is a hot alien (“Evil. . . Beautiful. . . Deadly. . .” warns
the trailer) who has crash-landed on Earth wearing almost nothing.
The Lost Women are weird sex-crazed predators fueled by spider venom,
and the Devil Girl From Mars is just another gal hunting for
virile men to repopulate her man-hungry planet. Late sci-fi
legend Octavia Butler said The Devil Girl From Mars inspired
her to write, because she was sure “anybody could write a better
story than that.” True. But Martian nemesis Patricia Laffan — B-movie
star of films like Hidden Homicide and Death in
High Heels
— looks great (in a fetish costume kind
of way) in her pointy-shouldered, patent-leather catsuit. She’s
Carrie Ann Moss in The Matrix and Kate Beckinsale
in Underworld, in the age of June Cleaver. — Logan
Hill

   

©2006 Nerve.com.