By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
In the Russo brothers' disappointing You, Me and Dupree, Owen Wilson's Dupree expounds an existential philosophy of keeping one's own character, a "ness" tacked on to a first name, such as his best friend's (Matt Dillon) "Carlness." It's a good idea dramatically to remind us all of our uniqueness and the necessity to nurture and protect it from, say, marauding fathers-in-law (in this case Michael Douglas), who might want to efface our individuality as well as get us vasectomies.
Yet the philosophical theme doesn't fit this comedy as it might Chekov's. Dupree's warm-hearted, slacking houseguest tests the patience of Carl and new wife (Kate Hudson). I can't figure out what Carl's character is, much less know what's worth preserving. Duprees's immature, likeable, sometimes witty persona is much easier to determine. Kate Hudson's Molly is even easier, however, because all she has to do is put up with the boys' adolescent behavior and show up now and then in a bikini or white panties with her yellow hair in a breeze to let us know she inherited all of her mom's (Goldie Hawn) good traits including the promise of fine comedic timing should a script offer the chance. This script offers stinky scatology and mindless masturbation instead.
Wilson is establishing himself as an accomplished light comedian with a regrettable tendency to play the same type of charming bumbler who always has a pithy remark to make himself the poetic soul of the piece. His recurring sides of wit and boyish mischief are keeping him in enough cash to keep him from his even more talented role as co-writer with director and buddy Wes Anderson. So, I ask myself, why doesn't he do only projects that suit his creative gifts? maybe because he's lost his sense of "Owenness."
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com