You, Me and Dupree (review)

What, Me Slack?

Oh, sweet, sly celebration of slackerdom that is You, Me and Dupree — I’m so glad we met. I really, really like you a lot and hope we can be good friends. I almost love you even, maybe. I could probably be persuaded to fall head over heels. I’ll have to think about it.

Know what I love about you? I love that you give us Owen Wilson, who has made a career out of playing the “lovable fuckup,” as his Randy Dupree here dubs himself, and then have the balls to have Matt Dillon as his best friend, Carl Peterson, say to his face, “You’re not that lovable.” Not that I haven’t been having a little fling with Owen (Cars, Wedding Crashers) and his lovable fuckups since around Shanghai Noon — I think he’s adorable and charming and all that, with his talent for turning loafing and mooching into something Zen and almost religious. But only in the movies is that kind of thing adorable and charming: in reality, you’d kick him out of your life if you didn’t actually kill him first, especially if he behaved like Dupree and pulled any of the truly thoughtless and inconsiderate crap he dumps on Carl and his new wife, Molly (Kate Hudson: The Skeleton Key, Le Divorce), when he crashes at their lovely new home.
I’ll leave it for the viewer to discover exactly what Dupree does, because his actions are part of the slow buildup the film takes in sketching this guy not as meanspirited or deliberately selfish but as a sensitive soul who simply has no radar for the sensitivities of others. But that’s part of why Dillon’s line — “you’re not that lovable” — is so refreshing and unexpected: Dupree takes Dupree half out of the realm of movie fantasy. It may not have permanently relocated him to a semblance of not-Hollywood realism, but it is at least attempting to commute to that neighborhood. It’s trying to find a balance between not being too deep and thinky and heavy and hence turning off a mainstream audience while also saying, Look, there’s something here worth considering.

It’s like this. Dillon (Herbie: Fully Loaded, Crash) delivers that line with a lot more tenderness and exasperation than you might expect, if you’re expecting a cruel and spiteful movie; it’s not a punchline, like it would be, say, in an Adam Sandler movie. This isn’t Click, which is thematically quite similar to Dupree: Sandler has his magical universal remote control to teach him that ya gotta slow down and smell the roses, and that comes across as trite and obvious. Dillon’s Carl — increasingly workaholic, in a constant battle of wills with his new father-in-law (Michael Douglas: The Sentinel), who is also his boss — has his maddeningly freespirited pal Dupree to impart the same idea, and here it’s warm and natural and organic. You won’t stumble from the theater feeling as if you’ve been whacked over the head with a message sledgehammer — you’ll skip out high on Dupree’s sudden discovery that maybe he’s not a slacker after all, he just needed to formulate his off-kilter approach to life in a way easily spreadable to the masses. Cuz Carl’s not the only one who need a little bit of Dupree to remind him what’s important.

What first-time screenwriter Mike LeSieur and directors Anthony and Joe Russo (who gave us the vastly underappreciated Welcome to Collinwood a few years back) have made, in fact, is Click for grownups: there are no fart jokes here, no potty-mouthed kids wiseassing their elders, no fat suits, no pratfalls. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t physical comedy — there is; Dillon has one moment in which rage and resentment that has been seething in Carl finally explodes, and it’s way funnier than anything in the likes of Click because his anger truly engenders our sympathy. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t toilet humor — there is; but it’s of the supportive, I-feel-your-pain, laughing-with kind, not the brutal laughing-at kind. Which isn’t to say that there isn’t sexual humor — there is; it represents genuine adult frustration and desire, not juvenile discomfort with the whole thing.

But the thing I think will persuade me to actually fall in love with you, You, Me and Dupree, is that, in the end, you begin to rehabilitate the “slacker” epithet Generation X has been slandered with. Randy Dupree ain’t a bad guy — he’s merely differently philosophied… and his philosophy, you insist, in your uniquely goofball way, is one worth listening to.

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6 thoughts on “You, Me and Dupree (review)”

  1. It’s great to see your positive take on ‘Dupree’, because I was wanting to give it a chance. I like the preview and the actors, but that’s not insurance these days. Interesting to see the comparison/contrast with ‘Click’ which I have no desire to see somehow. Sick of the preview, unfortunately, which seems inescapable.

  2. See, this is a really great review! Tells me just enough to understand why I might like this movie which, from the previews I thought would live or die on the writing. You have explained another element to the characterization that makes me consider it anew.

  3. Thanks for the compliments, but the real test will come when you see the film. If you still think this is great review then, then we’ll have something… :->

  4. I read some other reviews as well as this one before going to see “Dupree” yesterday. User reviews tend to be positive, but most critics seem to be tossing it away with an unfavorable comparison with “Wedding Crashers”. So I was curious to see which way my sentiments would fall. There’s a place in the movie where the tide turns, and I think it loses some people’s interest because it doesn’t stay on the chip and dip comic trail they expected to travel. But it works for me because it does take that turn into slightly deeper philosophical and psychological layers (still keeping it’s cheesy comic absurdity, without doubt),and Owen Wilson is successful at portraying a wide-eyed innocent fool of a genius with a big ole heart who finally finds his way to hold on to his “ness” without a ending up as a homeless pain in the butt forever. I was happy with all the performances, not least of all, the security guard surpise. Incidentally, my friend, who had read no reviews, laughed all the way through the film.

  5. What actually surprised me about the movie is that it’s not really about Dupree. It’s mainly about Carl. What also surprised me is that, although the ads make Dupree out to be this utterly clueless jackass, and Carl the exasperated but loyal best friend, I felt like it was sort of the other way around. I thought Carl was kind of a prick, and Dupree himself was almost painfully sweet. (Although, yes, a tad clueless on some matters. Surprisingly astute on many others, though!)

    I think what I liked best was the sort of 180 it pulled on my expectations. I was expecting the movie to end up being about Carl finally teaching Dupree to grow up, and it ended up going completely the other direction. I especially like how it started out with Molly being frustrated by Dupree and Carl sticking up for him, but ended up the other way around. Carl may have liked Dupree for all those years, but he never respected, appreciated, or even really understood him until the end of the movie. Ahh, those slackers. They have so much to teach us!

    I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this movie, but I also left the theater very disappointed. I feel like there was a really great, sweet, thought-provoking, gentle, character-driven comedy underneath, but it was sort of ripped open by the zany comedy that burst out of the middle like an alien into a spaghetti dinner. I could have used a lot less wackiness. Some parts were just so over-the-top that they seriously undermined the soul of the movie. At least in my opinion. Still, not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination.

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