Recently, Jeffrey Wells wrote this interesting article about how “stars become stars because people enjoy the fact that they do the same thing and do it well, time and again” and how Owen Wilson is the perfect example of that. I myself kinda wish the Butterscotch Stallion would mix it up once in a while, even though I do love his perennial Texas surfer dude persona. At least, he should get back to screenwriting: his best performances remain those he wrote for himself, in Bottle Rocket and The Royal Tenenbaums. Anyway, what I’m getting at is that while I can appreciate a good star turn, it’s not enough to make a film work.
Dupree is a character that seems to have been designed for Owen Wilson and he unsurprisingly knocks it out of the park. Whatever few laughs are found in this middling comedy, they’re all rooted in Dupree’s Owen Wilson-ness. Whether it’s his take it easy, man soliloquies, his “lovable fuck-up” antics or his wonderfully shameless comfort with his own sexuality (dude loves to sleep in the nude and to butter up the ladies, heh), it’s all good.
Too bad he’s stuck in such an uninspired white-bread movie. “You, Me and Dupree” is basically a Hollywood version of last year’s Gérard Depardieu vehicle “Boudu”, itself a remake of an earlier French film. In all of those, a couple finds itself playing host to an unkempt guest (“Dupree’s never been domesticated.”) who won’t go away. And like in “Boudu”, while it’s the husband who brings home the bum and the wife is initially unhappy about it, she eventually gets all chummy with him as she discovers his sweeter side, and it’s the husband who starts to grow impatient.
As mentioned, Wilson is the cat’s pajamas, but everyone around him is rather dull. Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon, who play the newlyweds in whose house Dupree (post-wedding) crashes, are capable performers, but the Mike LeSieur script doesn’t give them anything worthwhile to work with. Hudson is stuck with the thankless role of the nagging wife (all women seem to be emasculating bitches in this misogynistic picture) and is otherwise only there to model various tiny swimsuits and underwear. As for Dillon, he starts out as a nice-guy working stiff who still likes to have fun with his buddies once in a while but by the third act, he’s randomly shifted to a paranoid blowhard not unlike his Crash character (huh?). Michael Douglas also shows up as a cross between a caricature of the asshole capitalists he often portrays and the asshole father-in-law De Niro plays in the “Fockers” flicks. He’s an asshole, basically, and not a very funny one.
Dumb pratfalls, guys getting knocked in the balls, toilet humor, empty references to gangster movies (“Goodfellas”, “Raging Bull”, “Scarface”, etc.), an inconsequential sentimental undercurrent… Don’t expect to be moved, challenged or surprised in any remote way by “You, Me and Dupree”. Owen Wilson manages to make it relatively painless and even sporadically pleasant, but not nearly enough to make up for the mediocrity of this overblown sitcom.