Randolph Smiley (ROBIN WILLIAMS) has it all - as the costumed star of the highest rated kid's show on TV, "Rainbow Randolph" has a Manhattan penthouse, a Times Square billboard featuring his beloved character, cars , boats... more », horses and all the indulgence that celebrity brings. Until he get's caught by the Feds in an under the table bribe, busted and instantly reviled, Randolph is a star no more. Enter Sheldon Mopes (EDWARD NORTON) and his alter-ego "Smoochy", a puffy, fuscia rhinoceros. Smoochy is the perfect remedy for what ails the networks...Now it's Smoochy who's got the swanky penthouse, the Times Square billboard and the smooth-talking agent (DANNY DEVITO). Sheldon soon learns that children's television is a dangerous world steeped in corruption, back-stabbing and violence with his biggest problem being Rainbow Randolph. Broke and homeless, Randolph seeks revenge on the Rhino that stole his job and his house; he's convinced the foam rubber carpetbagger is the face of evil sent by the devil to destroy him and he will not sleep until Smoochy takes a permanent dirt nap.« less
Gloria B. (glowbird) from SPOKANE, WA Reviewed on 4/26/2013...
I don't understand why this movie is not more popular. Robin Williams is always entertaining, but the biggest surprise was Edward Norton playing Smoochy. He's both funny and cute. It may have a bit of a cheesy story, but it's still a funny comedy. I keep it around for rainy days when I need a laugh.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Matt B. from GETZVILLE, NY Reviewed on 10/20/2011...
The use of vibrant colors makes this bitter comedy a visual wonder. I suppose Iím easy to impress since I watch mainly black and white movies, but Iíve rarely seen a movie with such richly saturated colors. The production design pops like colors in The Simpsons.
The other strong point is the casting. Catherine Keener, as usual, is outstanding as the jaded producer of kid-shows. Stopping just short of geekiness, Edward Norton plays it sincere and schmaltzy as the rhino character. Full of caring and sharing, he says, ďWhen my brothers and I played cowboys and Indians, I was always the Chinese railroad worker.Ē As the character displaced by Smoochy the Rhino, Robin Williams is as an angry, harsh, foul-mouthed lunatic. Asked by a cop if he is okay, he says, ďI don't know. I'm kinda f*ck*d up in general, so it's hard to gauge.Ē Leading a half-comical half-scary Irish gang, Pam Ferris sports bright red hair that I canít believe is found in Ireland or Nature.
The movie twice uses the jaunty mambo music of Yma Sumac, so you know youíre in for a roller-coaster ride. The movie is not a satire of smarmy kid shows like Barney the Dinosaur. Nor does it satirize the corruption and back-stabbing of the corporate or entertainment world. The plot, characters, and writing are so over the top that the movie does not have the basis in reality that a lesson or meaning needs. Screenwriter Adam Resnick takes his relentless hard-edged tone from Jonathan Swift and Ambrose Bierce, but I canít accept it as satire, the movie has a cartoonish quality that makes it impossible to accept as having anything to do with the real world. The colors, Yma Sumac and other offbeat musicians, histrionic language, weird reflections, and odd transitions all combine to keep us off balance in a fantastical world. Itís fabulist without telling a fable.
The movie generated little box office revenue. Maybe by the end the people got tired of the salty language, the larger-than-life acting, unrestrained gestures, and the fantastical. Lines are delivered so fast and frantic that itís hard to catch the funny lines. Maybe people went to a Robin Williams movie expecting heart-warming Patch Adams, but got a relentless misanthropic loony-tune instead. One thing: the production design looks like no other movie so for that reason, I recommend it.
Finally: the ending's credits sequence with Keener, Norton, and a Williams stand-in looking like they're having a great time while flying, done to Jackie Wilson's Higher and Higher, is one of the most wonderful, beautiful things I've ever seen in movie. And since 1960 I've seen hundreds and hundreds of movies.
James B. (wandersoul73) from LINDALE, TX Reviewed on 6/21/2009...
Sadly, this one is highly overlooked. I found to be insanely funny.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Marc M. (mojofilmguy) Reviewed on 2/11/2009...
This movie is a real sleeper. It is bizarre, wacky comedy that snuck up on me while I was watching. Before long I was laughing my tail off.
3 of 3 member(s) found this review helpful.
Twisted humor with an honest heart
Debbie Lee Wesselmann | the Lehigh Valley, PA | 03/05/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This hilarious skewering of kids television is refreshing even among dark comedies. Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) has lost it all - television show, penthouse, reputation - when his network producer (Catherine Keener) finds Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton) singing in a homemade costume in a methadone clinic. She brings him aboard KidNet as Smoochy, dresses him up, gives him an elaborate, colorful set, and launches a career. The trouble is, Sheldon is naive, and wants only to teach children about the benefits of organic food, tolerance, and anti-consumerism. And Rainbow Randolph has dedicated his every waking minute to orchestrating his downfall. Throw in Danny DeVito as Smoochy's corrupt, power-hungry agent, a Irish mob protecting a lovable, brain-damaged boxer who loves Smoochy, the head of a children's charity capable of murder, and a string of has-been children's television performers - and you've got a twisted, laugh out loud black comedy that is like nothing else I've seen.Even Barney-haters will love the clips from Smoochy's show since Sheldon believes so completely in goodness. He really wants to change the world, in his politically correct, strict vegetarian way. When he sings, "Your stepfather is not mean/(chorus of kids) He's just adjusting," it's hilarious. His wholesome image contrasts dramatically with the foul-mouthed, cynical, and even murderous characters around him. Robin Williams turns in an excellent grungy performance as Randolph. Edward Norton is completely believable and lovable as Sheldon/Smoochy, even when the corruption around him begins to affect him. Catherine Keener has just the right mix of hard-nosed corporate greed, cynicism, and the ability to be won over by a good children's song. Danny DeVito is the kind of seedy character he always plays; his real contribution to this film is as its director, and he does a fabulous job. The set and costume designs are notable as well.You need a twisted sense of humor to fully appreciate this film. Oddly, despite the premise, this is not a mean comedy. Randolph's murderous impulses, while ugly, are off-set by Sheldon's honest attempts to protect the sanctity of children's television. If you're looking for an off-beat comedy, you've found your film."
"I despise you! I LOATHE YOU!!!!" I'm Very Pleased, Indeed
Michael Crane | Orland Park, IL USA | 09/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is a prime example of why I never listen to professional critics. Most of the time, they hate movies that I love and love movies that I hate. Of course this movie isn't going to win any Acadamy Awards. Of course it isn't the best film ever. It's not trying to be. I found "Death to Smoochy" to be a dark and entertaining comedy with a really creative story. Robin Williams and Edward Norton star in this off-the-wall freak show directed by Danny DeVito.Williams used to be "Rainbow Randolph;" a kiddie-show host who children just adored. That is, until he was busted for taking a bribe. Now the not so rainbow man is out of the job and is homeless. Out of an act of desperate measures, the company decides to hire Edward Norton; a dorky self-righteous dweeb without a single skeleton hiding in his closet. A new kiddie-show host is born, and his name is "Smoochy the Rhino." Well, Rainbow Randolph is not pleased at all. In fact, he's willing to take the rhino down for good. Because he's going hunting! The story unfolds with some of the most outrageous twists and turns to be seen in a comedy in a long time.The acting is really good, and is right for this type of movie. Williams is over-the-top as always, and Norton really gives us the impression of such a moral imbecile, he makes Ned Flanders look like a no good hoodlum! The cast also inculdes Jon Stewart, Catherine Keener, and Danny DeVito himself. They all do this movie justice.The directing by DeVito really shines in this movie. Had it been given to anyone else, it could've been a disaster. He knew when to have the actors take it up a notch and then tone it down when the time was right. I also really liked how the movie was filmed. At one minute, the movie would be bright and colorful, and then dark and grim the next. It really keeps the viewer's attention.The DVD is quite good. Very surprised with it. As I said before, Warner Bros. usually likes to hold back when it comes to special features, but there's a lot on this one. Some of the features include commentary from the director and director of photography, additional scenes, bloopers and outtakes, trailers, and many more. I especially got a kick out of the bloopers and outtakes. Just wished it was a little longer.So, if you're looking for an artistic movie or one that's going to win a few Oscars, then skip this movie. If you're looking for an off-the-wall dark comedy with a creative plot and story, then "Death to Smoochy" just may be the movie for you. Yes, I feel there could've been things done to make the movie better, but I was really pleased with the overall product. A very strange and bizarre movie it is, but that's the kind of movie I love."
H. Swanson | 01/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie stars Edward Norton, is there anything more that can be said? ;) It's so nice to see such amazing diversity in an actor's characters. (If you want to know what I'm referring to, just go watch American History X and then Death to Smoochy).
"I think you'd have to be wired way too tight not to be able to laugh at this movie. It's able to give you a dark chuckle on an adult level and satirize things in a sophisticated way." -Edward Norton
Sure DTS's humor may be a little juvenile at some times, but it's nevertheless hillarious.
Highly recommended, if nothing else see it for Edward Norton, he gives a great performance (as always) and his character (Sheldon Mopes) is a nice change from the usual."
Monica Ramirez | Round Rock, TX United States | 04/01/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robin Williams in perhaps the single most vicious, despicable, and possibly the very funniest role of his entire career. Edward Norton as a soy-dog devouring "bottle of pancake syrup with legs". Danny Devito as a low-down greaseball. Okay, two surprises and one standard role. All three shine in this Devito-directed self-proclaimed 'black comedy', which has sparked protests from parents nationwide. Why? Don't ask me. Despite the R rating in the US and the equivalent rating of AA (Adult Accompaniment) in Canada, there actually seem to be some twits out there who will take their kids to see this simply because kiddie shows happen to be the subject material. Therefore, I will warn you now: THIS IS NOT A CHILDREN'S MOVIE. That said, it's a hilarious satire of the world of children's television and a very satisfying parody of Barney the Dinosaur. (At last!) It's also just a thoroughly enjoyable story that only gets better the second time. It has a bumper crop of corrupt, nasty villains, including the gravel-voiced Harvey Fierstein. It has enough platitudes and slipped-in health tips from Norton's free-spirited character to make anybody sick. It even has a costumed Elvis Stojko doing what he does best-- figure skating. In other words, this is one movie I may not let my kids see, but I'll be staying up late to watch it myself again and again."
ixion75 | 03/31/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If the image of gaudily dressed dwarves carrying flags with swastikas furiously skating after a bloated purple-blue rhinoceros on ice unleashes a chuckle in some far corner of your being, you just may be the small percentage of the population whose utterly wacked-out sense of humor will think _Death To Smoochy_ a comic classic. Don't ask me to explain that image, either; only a trip into the bowels of this strange, strange film will even begin to explain such a radical motif. A black comedy with an unremitting consciousness of its own bleakness, under Danny Devito's direction the quirky script and its half-mundane jokes becomes a harbinger of humanity's moral rancidity as well as a gem of galactically weird humor. How the two are ever balanced is a total mystery, and that may be part of the fun of watching such a festival of mordancy.The tone of the film is unlike anything I've ever seen: bizarre, caustic, inflammatory, even deranged. On one level the film is a send-up of children's television; on another level, it possesses a bitterness and and danger that is clearly adulthood at its most disturbing. I am not sure to what extent the criminal proceedings and the dark underworld of corporate executives that is portrayed in the film are genuine-- certainly some of this stuff must go on, but who can say to what extent? Yet as the film weaves its way through its gloomy portrayals of deceit, disloyalty and dishonor in the entertainment industry, it becomes readily obvious that _Smoochy_ is the edgiest and most extreme big-budget comedy in years, decades... or ever.Nothing is sacred here. Certainly not Robin Williams' hilarious "Rainbow Randolph," a character whose depravity of personality is all the more shocking when you take into consideration this is the esteemed actor who has been cramming a New Age feel-goodism down our gullets for the last two dozen of his films. The subtext of his ethical honor goes up in smoke in the first 5 minutes here. You will either be glad or you will grumble uncomfortably. This is just the beginning, however. Not even the film's star, Norton's "Smoochy," gets away scot-free: as he munches on an all-organic veggie dog smothered in almond butter in an early scene, one is not sure there is any character that isn't lampooned viciously. Catherine Keener's "Nora" is the worst of all: cold and soulless in the film's first half, her ruthlessness establishes an almost austere bitchiness; she is unfunny by the accident that she is more disturbing.If there is anything or anyone that is not skewered directly by the lamp glare of _Smoochy_ it is the kids themselves, who are somehow benignly outside this wretched grown up world of lies. _Smoochy_ is not without its flaws, among which are the imbalances within its characters' performances, which reach schizoid dimensions of love/hate and like/dislike. However, if you have the ability to suspend disbelief and (perhaps more importantly) possess a sick, twisted frame of mind, _Smoochy_ is a film you must see to simply look into the abyss and then, hopefully, 88 minutes later, return from it-- laughing."