v Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo | 108 minutes | comedy, romance | Actors: Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Michael Douglas, Seth Rogen, Amanda Detmer, Ralph Ting, Keo Knight, Todd Stashwick, Bill Hader, Lance Armstrong, Jason Winer, Sidney S. Liufau, Billy Gardell, Eli Vargas, Houston McCrillis, Bob Larkin, Suzanne Ford,
Throw in a popular cast in an easily twisted formula movie and you’ve got a hit on your hands. At least, that seems to have been the thought for “You, Me and Dupree”. And, it has to be said, the film comes quite a bit on the strength of Owen Wilson’s dryly comical talent and Kate Hudson’s adorable smile and sexy swaying bottom, but you really need to have a more original script and more interesting, more believable characters than here, to keep the film above water.
This film can be seen as an unofficial sequel to “The Wedding Crashers”. The difference is that in that movie weddings were crashed by Wilson and here the home and life of a newly married couple. Oh, and “Crashers” was a lot funnier when Vince Vaughn was still there as a sparring partner for Wilson. Here, the latter has to do it practically alone, as Dillon is especially serious about keeping his marriage and self-worth together, and Hudson’s husband is mostly on his skin for the disturbance factor of their new roommate.
“You, Me and Dupree” portrays the ancient “truth” of the man who is chained and dominated by the woman once he is married. He is not “allowed” to hang around the pub until late, or go crazy or party with his mates. No, he has to comply with “mother wife” in this prison called “marriage”. This time-honored “concept” was also, ahem, hilariously elaborated in “The Break-Up” when Vince Vaughn was limited by Jennifer Aniston in his freedom. We see here that it is a general phenomenon. Dillon’s friends in the movie also have to be home on time, and have nothing to say at home. The deprivation of masculinity and self-esteem seems to be a major theme for the makers of the film, the Russo brothers, as it is referred to repeatedly. This is also the case in the subplot with Dillon’s father-in-law Douglas, who pulls him behind his cart and asks him to take his daughter’s last name. He even literally proposes sterilization to him at one point. However, this humor fails to evoke much more than a smile. An attempt is made to make a kind of tragicomic whole of this story element, but the result is more of an uncomfortable mix between drama and comedy, in which both elements are not shown. For a moment, Dillon’s dream project, which threatens to be disintegrated by boss Douglas, seems to form an important plot in the form of a personal victory march, but it is only meant as yet another stab in the dismantling of Dillon’s character.
The drama, when it comes, does not come into its own. We never really know what to make of Wilson’s behavior toward Dillon. Is he kidding him now when he says in the beginning of the film that he admires him and his “Carlness”, or does he really mean it? In any case, it comes across as very artificial. Moreover, as in the aforementioned “The Break-Up”, it is not very credible that these two men have built up a friendship at all: they seem to have so little in common. To top it all off, the last act of the film sees an (sometimes) incomprehensible turnaround in the behavior of the main characters. Dillon suddenly acts like an insensitive bastard to Wilson; Hudson would like to have Wilson in the house now; Douglas repents after all his unpleasantness; and Wilson himself suddenly turns out to be a sentimental and prolific friend, who writes poetry (thus labeled gay by Dillon) and cries at Audrey Hepburn films. While it is a joy to see fragments of the wonderfully romantic and timeless “Roman Holiday,” it is not exactly consistent with Wilson’s character to rave about this film. It is only funny because of Wilson’s comic talent, who still manages to squeeze a laugh out of many impossible situations. Also, there are more movie references than the mentioned Hepburn movie. A line from DePalma’s “Scarface” comes back in a funny way in Wilson’s t-shirt, which shows a gnome and is inscribed: “Say hello to my little friend”. And when Dillon asks in a relatively aggressive way if he is in love with his wife, the latter says, “Hold on, Jake LaMotta,” referring to Scorcese’s intense “Raging Bull”.
This last point of contention, the friction due to alleged love feelings between Wilson and Hudson, offers the best starting point for interesting dynamics between the three, but is hardly exploited. An interesting kind of gloating takes place when we see Wilson and
At one point, Hudson regularly laughs and jokes, while Dillon is out of favor and only becomes more furious because of the very familiar behavior of his wife and, before anyway, best friend. This behavior expands to grand proportions in Dillon’s mind, depicted in a dream scene, where we see Owen and Hudson on the boat with Dillon’s father-in-law, and Hudson dressed in a sexy black bathing suit, with slow hip movements towards Wilson, after which the two hugs each other.
But these kind of amusing (dreamed) conflict situations are rare. Above all, we have to settle for a “Meet the Parents” style slapstick routine, where Wilson blatantly invades Dillon and Hudson’s privacy. For example, he interrupts a just-started lovemaking between the newly married couple to quickly use the toilet next to their room; big message, of course, with conceivable consequences. He also turns out to be sleeping on the couch in his bare ass, and he is caught masturbating with Dillon’s porn collection. But we also literally see how he is a big kid because he plays baseball with the kids in the street during the day or builds a “ramp” to blast off with his skateboard. The fact that some of these moments still see somewhat effective can be attributed entirely to Wilson. Luckily, he and Hudson’s fine presence are able to spice up this flimsy production, as “You, Me and Dupree” in itself fails to provide any original or interesting ideas. However, it is far from enough to recommend the film.