Death to Smoochy

Year: 2002

Synopsis: Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) is fired from his children’s show for accepting bribes, while his naive successor, Smoochy the Rhino (Edward Norton), learns the dark and corrupting corners of the industry.

Pros:
• Williams and Norton drive the dark humor as a nuanced kind of odd couple.
• The whole cast gave it their sincerest, while Catherine Keener especially liked to wink at the audience in her own way.
• The overt use of light and shadow effectively gave nuance to the scenes.
• The overall story of finding the right path when corruption and anger provide many pitfalls was largely successful in its implementation.
• Went all the way in its dark satire of children’s shows.

Cons:
• The humor might have rested too heavily on one’s liking or disliking of the characters.
• Was a bit too self indulgent for its own good, especially as the film went on.
• The subplot of being duped into headlining a neonazi rally might have been a bit too much, especially in terms of the imagery.

Discussion:
This was a film that dared to make fun of something that is seemingly altruistic at heart: children’s shows. At the time of its release, perhaps, the overall story probably felt way over the top and in conflict with itself. Yet, the truths of the #MeToo movement may retroactively be reflected in Smoochy, suggesting a greater truth than what was publicly understood in 2002. We also now know full well the kind of things money might do to celebrities more than ever. Indeed, not every children’s show is on a nonprofit network like PBS, highlighting how such shows could be driven by cash consumption over the key demographic. Well, maybe Death to Smoochy never wanted to be a classic, and maybe it was never meant to be looked at with any serious depth. If there is only one thing for certain, we may never look at Barney quite the same way again.


Rotten Tomatoes — 42%

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