Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Joe & Anthony Russo
Owen Wilson……….Randy Dupree
Matt Dillon……….Carl Peterson
Kate Hudson……….Molly Peterson
Owen Wilson is an enigma when one compares him to the rest of his “Frat Pack” members. Ben Stiller is poised to have a career as a more popular version of Woody Allen, Will Ferrell has made some of the funniest movies of the last five years, Vince Vaughn is poised to have as big a profile as Stiller, Owen’s brother Luke is perhaps the most talented of the group and Jack Black is carving out a niche audience that harkens back to the days of Jackie Gleason. Owen, on the other hand, has appeared in some of the biggest grossing films of the last decade without really establishing himself in any real way. He was overshadowed in last year’s surprise smash Wedding Crashers as Vaughn had all the best comedic material. Wilson also played a minor role in 1998’s second highest grossing film in the Bruce Willis/Ben Affleck vehicle Armageddon. Jackie Chan even managed to outshine Wilson in both of their action comedies Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights.
With strong supporting roles on the independent circuit, earning praise for his supporting role in the Stiller vehicle Permanent Midnight and alongside his brother in Bottle Rocket amongst others, Owen Wilson’s career has been a bit erratic as his big breakout role is always a film or two away. Being the second banana, if you will, is something that Wilson does well enough to be a large name in and of itself. While being a second banana might not be the most glorious thing, or the most ego-satisfying one either, being the cinematic version of Scottie Pippen to someone else’s Michael Jordan can be lucrative and an easier path to stardom. Much like Pippen in the aftermath of all three of Jordan’s retirements, Wilson is striking out on his own in the lead of You, Me and Dupree.
Wilson stars as Randy Dupree, a man on the bottom of his luck. He has lost his job, his girlfriend and his apartment in the wake of his best friend’s wedding. His best friend Carl (Matt Dillon), trying to help out, decides to let Dupree move in temporarily with him and his newfound bride Molly (Kate Hudson). Wackiness ensues when Dupree’s lack of house manners and common sense end up causing friction between the newlyweds, but the film really isn’t about Molly and Carl. It’s about Carl and Randy, friends since childhood, and how the new marriage affects the two of them.
The focus of the film is on this friendship, but the sort of offbeat vibe that the Russo brothers are trying to aim for falls a bit flat as they don’t look and act like friends, per se. They seem more like jilted lovers than best friends due to the way both the cinematography as well as the story shows them to be. It doesn’t help that the film doesn’t have a lot of laughs for a cast mismatched in their roles.
From a sheer visual level the sort of tenderness and glances they shows is reminiscent of last year’s gay cowboy film Brokeback Mountain. The sort of visuals the Russo brothers use are meant more for a romance than a buddy comedy, which is what the film is supposed to be, but gives it an odd implication as to the nature of their friendship. Carl, on the eve of his wedding, spends a long walk on the beach with Randy and the Russo brothers shoot the scene as if it was the breakup of two lovers as opposed to one friend lamenting the evolution of their friendship.
They exchange long glances, of course, but the key to the whole thing is that Randy and Carl have dialogue reminiscent of catty couples in romantic comedies and for whatever reason seem to be on the hinge of coming out of the closet to each other. The gay overtones of the film are so outlandish and overt it’s almost irritating because none of the proceedings are consistently funny. Coming from two people known for “Arrested Development,” a show noted for its quality writing, the film doesn’t have a script with any really strong characters in it. Hudson, Dillon and Wilson are all good actors with good timing but the film doesn’t leave much for them to do. These are stock characters in a stock film, a surprise on all accounts, but it’s disappointing because there’s a lot of good in the film. Wilson seems to be having a lot of fun with the character, trying to infuse a life into a poorly developed character, but the film’s scene stealer is Seth Rogen. While not in a lot of scenes, Rogen has some good moments in the film that bring plenty of laughs.
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