The latest dishonestly marketed theatrical release of the summer (following the botch jobs done to "The Break-Up
" and "Click
"), "You, Me and Dupree" has been advertised as a zany, lighthearted romp about an unkempt and unwanted houseguest who makes life hell for two newlyweds. What the film really is about is a free-spirited houseguest who actually isn't that bad at all, and a new husband who increasingly becomes a jerk to his wife and best friend for no dignified reason. When directors Anthony and Joe Russo aim for laughs, they fail miserably (there are only two lightly funny moments in the whole 108-minute running time, one involving a ridiculously short school bus and the other thanks to a cameo by Lance Armstrong). The rest of the time the movie screeches to a halt as it tries to sympathize with its portrait of an unraveling marriage. The problem is one half of the couple is deranged and not worth caring about, and the other half seems far more well-matched to the visitor in their home.
Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) have no sooner gotten married and returned from their honeymoon that Carl's fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants best friend Dupree (Owen Wilson) shows up jobless and without a home. Reluctantly, Molly agrees to let him stay for a few days while he finds a job. This temporary living arrangement soon becomes more permanent, with Dupree unintentionally butting into and wreaking havoc on Carl and Molly's new life together. After Dupree sees the errors of his ways and redeems himself to Molly, their newfound friendship sends Carl, who is further stressed out by working overtime for a father-in-law (Michael Douglas) whom he knows doesn't like him, into a jealous panic. Will Dupree find a way to save Molly and Carl's marriage, or is theirs a love that simply isn't meant to be?
"You, Me and Dupree" is a limp, uninspired dramedy that can never figure out what it wants to be about. Although the pictures starts off just as the trailers have suggested, with Dupree causing conflict for Molly and Carl that culminates in their house partially being burned down, first-time screenwriter Mike LeSieur takes a u-turn in the second hour and develops Dupree into an admirable man whose occasional childlike tendencies are offset by an innate goodness of heart. Furthermore, he becomes a great pal to Molly, treating her with the respect and attention Carl has stopped giving her.
Meanwhile, Carl's ugly true colors come out abruptly, suggestively egged on by his poor relationship with his boss/father-in-law but never to the point to justify his passive-agressive personality shift. Because his time is never actually seen being monopolized by work as he claims, the viewer is left to wonder why, exactly, he always seems to be getting home late. Carl's mounting paranoia about Molly and Dupree spending time together is also unfoundedhe should be glad someone is giving his wife the time of dayand in one off-putting scene, he actually reacts to learning that Dupree writes poetry by calling him a "homo." None of this, nor Carl's ultimate attack on Dupree at the dinner table, fits comfortably with the sporadic throwaway jokes and physical gags battling for screen time. The misguided ending, one assumes, is supposed to have audiences crossing their fingers that Carl and Molly work out their problems and get back together, but all it really does is leave the viewer hoping against hope that Molly rightfully kicks the selfish, irritable, bigoted Carl to the curb.
With Owen Wilson leading the way as the laid-back Dupree, distributor Universal Studios has to be hoping that they can find the same box-office success that 2005's "Wedding Crashers
" had. They aren't likely to find it, though, as "You, Me and Dupree" crawls along at an unhurried, rather aimless pace, its comedic flourishes either negligible or muted by the thematic seriousness that surrounds them. Wilson, like his character, takes some time warming up to, but his performance gradually becomes an endearing one.
Kate Hudson (2005's "The Skeleton Key
") is cute and affable, all sunshine and roses until her Molly must face a marriage that is collapsing before it has properly begun. Had she been written smartly, there would be no question whether or not she and Carl rekindle their flame (hint: they wouldn't). As Carl, Matt Dillon plays a role with unsettling shades of the prejudiced, antagonistic one he essayed in 2005's "Crash
." Carl is not exactly a character that cries out to be a romantic lead, and Dillon fails to give him enough positive attributes to make him remotely likable.
"You, Me and Dupree" is competently made on a technical level, and mostly avoids falling into sappiness during its dramatic interludes. With that said, the comedy is desperate and predictable rather than clever, and the film's portrayal of a relationship in disarray was handled with far more maturity and urgency in "The Break-Up
." A middle-of-the-road piece of fluff knocked down an extra peg by featuring an insufferable lead character that coincidentally happens to not be the one of the title, "You, Me and Dupree" is left gasping for signs of life and purpose long before the end credits have shown their welcome face.