Death to Smoochy

Robin Williams demonstrates his sinister side in Death to Smoochy, Danny DeVito's dark, acerbic comedy about the underbelly of kiddie TV shows. In polar contrast to his warm and fuzzy Patch Adams character, Williams plays the perverse kids show host, Rainbow Randolph, an alcoholic, o­n-the-take, and now o­n-the-skids clown, replaced by a goody-two-shoes fuschia rhino character named Smoochy (think Barney, the dinosaur), the invention of o­ne Sheldon Mopes, an eco-positive, granola nut who embodies everything Rainbow detests. To add fuel to Randolph's revenge, Smoochy (Edward Norton) has also won over his ex-girlfriend Nora, (Catherine Keener of Being John Malkovich) a cynical TV executive with a penchant for plushy TV mascots. In an all-out war against Smoochy to regain his former glory, Randolph involves the local Irish Mafia, a punch-drunk ex-heavyweight boxer (a laughworthy performance by Michael Rispoli), a smack addict, and embezzling charities, in an over-extended series of subplots and gags that overwhelm the viewer in its incoherent vision, leaving us speculating if this is indeed a stinging satire o­n the ruthless business of childrenís television, or just a boundless, garish, gag-a-minute spectacle, rushing in all directions at o­nce. With all the effort extended by DeVito (who triumphed with The War of the Roses) screenwriter Adam Resnick (The Larry Sanders Show), and a top-notch cast meant to capture our collective imagination, Death to Smoochy is nothing but a plush-size disappointment.

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