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"YOU, ME AND DUPREE"
(2006) (Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A recently married couple must put up with their unemployed, homeless friend who's just moved in with them.
PLOT:
Carl Peterson (MATT DILLON) is at a happy point in his life. Recently married to Molly (KATE HUDSON), he has a good job working for her dad, Mr. Thompson (MICHAEL DOUGLAS) at his land development company, a comfortable home, and good friends in the likes of longtime pal Randolph Dupree (OWEN WILSON) and their buddy Neil (SETH ROGEN).

But things change when they get back from their honeymoon. Despite appointing Carl to head up a community project he created, Mr. Thompson starts making radical changes to the plans while also apparently attempting to emasculate him. On the home front, he convinces Molly to allow the suddenly unemployed and homeless Dupree to live with them, an act of generosity that backfires on him.

It's not long before both conditions start to put a strain on Carl, his marriage and their friendship with Dupree as the latter starts to take over their lives, albeit in an unintentional fashion. As his life starts to spiral out of control, Carl must figure out what to do, all as Molly and Dupree become concerned about his change in behavior.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
Toward the end of "You, Me and Dupree," the latter titular person finally comes out and explains his life philosophy, hoping to convince his friend (who's either the "You" or "Me" part of the title) to adopt it for himself. Essentially just a gussied up version of "be yourself," he's given it the Ness touch. No, not being anything related to something untouchable or dealing with any sort of loch, but instead it's simply adding "ness" to the end of your name to identity the quality that makes you who you are (so John Smith would have a certain John Smithness about him).

What's not so coincidentally interesting is that the Randolph Dupreeness certainly seems an awful lot like a certain Owen Wilsonness, mainly because that actor is playing that character. To be more accurate, he's playing the same sort of character -- with near identical attributes and distinguishing marks - that he usually does, at least of recent.

Despite an interesting start to his career, the actor has now become typecast as the lovable slacker who talks with that almost stoned surfer delivery, has that Zen think going with his eyes, and connects with the kids, animals, and supporting characters while occasionally clashing with his main counterpart. A few years back, the same character drove Jackie Chan crazy in the Old West, in 2005 his doppelganger crashed weddings, and this year he's crashing some newlyweds' home in this "three's a crowd" comedy from the directors Anthony Russo and Joe Russo of TV's "Arrested Development."

And that very Wilsonness is one half -- and a big one at that -- of this film's problems. I don't know what the record is for lead actors playing the same character type without it actually being the same character, but Wilson has to be closing in on the record if he doesn't already possess it. Thus, while the actor's fans might enjoy another 100-some minutes with the typecast character doing his normal, laidback, cause trouble and then make amends material, the rest of us who've now grown tired of the same will find little joy (or humor) in this outing.

The bigger issue is that the complications, difficulties and such that his character creates aren't particularly believable, novel or, worse yet, funny, thanks to a tired and formulaic script by writer Mike LeSieur. It certainly doesn't help that this sort of story has been done countless times before -- where an outsider upsets the seemingly happy apple cart life of some people -- but that would be okay if something original and/or hilarious was introduced into the mix. Alas, that's not the case here where the material -- much like Wilson's character -- simply feels tired and worn from overuse.

Perhaps realizing that the scatological and embarrassing sexual material (on the part of the couple -- Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson -- being interrupted or catching their new housemate in the act of pleasuring himself or a Mormon librarian) didn't have any pizzazz, the filmmakers decided to gang up on Dillon's character from both sides. Thus, not only does he have to put up with Wilson, uh, Dupree, upending their lives, but he also gets squeezed by his boss who also just so happens to be his new father-in-law.

Few can play that sort of smooth, yet intimidating and intense power figure like Michael Douglas. Yet, even he can't do much with his part that doesn't really make sense (first wanting his daughter to keep his last name since that's his legacy, but then suggesting that his son-in-law should get a vasectomy that would obviously end the family line there). It also doesn't generate as many laughs as one imagines it could and should have considering the myriad of possibilities and directions in which the material could have been taken.

Anyway, the labor and domestic pressures are supposed to drive Carl crazy to the point of cinematic hilarity, but the laughs are few and far between, as the material quickly becomes redundant, boring and, worse yet, predictable. It won't come as a surprise that Dillon's character finally snaps and must then be subjected to some Wilsonness to make things right. The problem is we don't care about or really like the characters, their situation and predicaments, or most anything to do with the picture. It's just there, going through the expected motions without making any sort of noticeable waves.

While Dillon gets plenty of material with which to work, there's little fun to be had with it, while Hudson is stuck with the thankless role of the wife who soon starts to like hanging out more with the interloper than her husband. The changeover is so sudden and unbelievable that one can't help but note where the screenwriting manual or software program obviously stated "change character motivation here to create new and funny complications."

One could potentially make an interesting movie about a man having to give up his bachelor days and goods, but this isn't that picture. Nor is it noteworthy on any level for its three's a crowd plotline. That is, except for adding one more notch on Wilson's SAG card for playing the same, lovable slacker character yet one more time. "You, Me and Wilson," uh, "Dupree" rates as a 4 out of 10.




Reviewed July 11, 2006/ Posted July 14, 2006


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