At one point in "You, Me and Dupree", Dupree (Owen Wilson) states "I was such a sucker." Well, I feel the same way Dupree, I feel the same way. I was a sucker to pay $10.75 to watch this lame "comedy"; directed by the Russo Brothers who worked on the television show "Arrested Development". I still don't understand how "Dupree" can be called a comedy.
Dupree's best buddy, Carl (Matt Dillon, a long way from "Crash", Matt, a long way) is getting married to his sweetheart… Honestly, I have completely blanked on her character's name, that's how interesting she is. Kate Hudson's character. What was her name? Oh well, for the purpose of identification, we'll call her Blank. So Carl is marrying Blank whose father, Mr. Thompson (Michael Douglas), a rich land developer, is also Carl's boss and he's less than thrilled to welcome the new man into the family. Returning home from their honeymoon, Carl and Blank find Dupree is homeless and offer to let him stay with them for a few days. Soon, Dupree is making a general nuisance of himself; he walks in on Blank and… what was his name, the Matt Dillon character? Oh, well… For purposes of identification, we'll call him Mr. Blank. Dupree walks in on Mr. and Mrs. Blank having sex. He sleeps on their couch in the nude. He overflows their toilet. He adds HBO to their cable. He changes their answering machine. During this time, Mr. Blank begins to get pressure at work from his boss and new father-in-law, putting a strain on the relationship between the newlyweds, Mr. and Mrs. Blank.
"You, Me and Dupree" lists Owen Wilson as one of the film's many producers and this clearly appears to be an attempt to cash in on some of the success of "Wedding Crashers", much like Vaughn has just done with "The Break-up". While I pretty much disliked every frame of "The Break-Up", "Dupree" is worse. At least in "The Break-Up" you could identify what they were trying to do. It just didn't work. In "Dupree" it is almost impossible to tell if they wanted to make a comedy and if so did they want the comedy to be raunchy and slightly 'out there' like "American Pie" or "Wedding Crashers" or did they want it to be a comedy like "When Harry Met Sally"? Or were they going for a drama and if so did they want to make a flat out romantic drama or where they trying to combine drama and romance?
Wilson plays a character we have seen many, many times; the unwanted house-guest. In this role, the comedy comes from the many ways this house-guest disrupts the life of his host; the more outrageous the behavior, the funnier the film. Usually. The comedy has to build from small offenses to the more outrageous. In "Dupree", Dupree pretty much overstays his welcome in about twenty minutes of screen time. When you see what he has done to these people, what offenses he has perpetrated, remember them, Mr. and Mrs. Blank, you will wonder how the film can continue, as I did. And it doesn't. What the filmmakers do is start the second installment of the series. In tonight's episode, Dupree has to make his buddy jealous by making Mrs. Blank more interested in him. Then when that runs its course, episode 3: The father in-law. Episode 4: The Inevitable Reconciliation. Unfortunately, none of these bits has any comedy or drama; it is merely a painful exercise and it was exhausting to keep my eyes glued to the screen as the actors wade through this mess of a film.
Wilson is usually a dependable comic, but in "Dupree", he doesn't take the character to that next level. Yes, Dupree is lazy, can't hold a job, wanders through life at his own speed, etc. We see these actions, perhaps find it amusing, but it doesn't then lead to anything else, which makes them all the more meaningless and unfunny. They really don't have any connection to the story either, making the entire idea pointless and tiring. His character is merely a set of behaviors with no cohesion. Why does he do what he does? Is he really that oblivious? Why does he suddenly and immediately decide to go on a date with one of Mrs. Blank's colleagues? Nothing about Dupree ever gels. And after a while, his character becomes more and more… and more annoying. We keep waiting for the payoff and it never comes.
Matt Dillon plays Carl, Dupree's best buddy. There is only one point when he even seems to like Dupree, to show him any real affection, and this happens very early. Throughout the rest of the film, he seems annoyed, sad, incredulous and unhappy with his relationship with Dupree. Why is he putting up with this behavior?
Dillon is not particularly known for his comedic timing and he proves to be an unusual choice for this role. He seems to take everything with the seriousness of a Shakespearean actor, never really understanding the film is meant to be a comedy. His facial expression rarely changes and when it does, it goes from shocked to angry and back to shock. Its sad to watch an actor who has recently done such great work, in last year's "Crash", follow it up with films like "Herbie: Unloaded" and "You, Me and Dupree".
Kate Hudson also plays everything very straight. At one point, she has a discussion with Dupree about how she is having trouble with her relationship with Carl, how he is always coming home late, seems stressed by the job, etc. As this is supposed to be a comedy, I kept waiting for the punch line. But then I realized this was another misguided attempt by the filmmakers to create a credible drama. But "Dupree" is supposed to be funny, you know, a comedy. I can honestly say she never appears to have a moment of levity. It is a boring performance that might have fared better if the film were supposed to be a drama. Considering how much of the material seems to have been created for a drama, maybe that is what the filmmakers intended. Maybe the studio got it wrong.
Of all the performers, Michael Douglas is perhaps the hardest to figure out. As Mr. Thompson, he runs a large residential property development business, the type that sets up large tracts of homes called The Oaks at Playa Vista in a spot that was formerly desert. Carl, his new son-in-law is also an employee. After he returns from his honeymoon, Carl learns he has been promoted. Thompson likes his idea for The Oaks, but wants to make it even bigger, and without any trees. Carl struggles with the idea for a moment before giving in due to the promise of a lot of family names. Mrs. Blank is his only child. Thompson begins to work his son-in-law to the bone. At one point, he mentions that he wants Carl to take his name, with a hyphen, to help extend his line. Yet, in the same conversation, he suggests to Carl that he should have a vasectomy. Huh? It doesn't make any sense. Actually, this is a good example of the problem with the entire film. Everything is at odds with everything else. Characters do things and then immediately do things that don't make any sense, don't grow homogenously out of the previous action. After watching this happen repeatedly, it becomes a bit maddening.
Really, I was just shocked at how bad "You, Me and Dupree" was. I feel cheated, like the studio owes me some money, not just for the full price ticket, but also for my time, my parking, my impaired brain function.