ING (0 TO ****): * 1/2
Danny DeVito's DEATH TO SMOOCHY opens with the assassination of Smoochy (Edward
Norton), the star of a popular kids' show. Called "Barney's bastard son" by his
rival, Rainbow Randolph Smiley (Robin Williams), Smoochy is the world's most
squeaky clean kids' show host. An organic food zealot, he doesn't want any
product tie-ins, which infuriates Kidnet Vice President Nora Wells (Catherine
Keener), who is in charge of his show. The story is told in flashback as we
learn how Smoochy came to stardom.
Although the movie tries to parody kids' television productions, the movie ends
up being almost as awful as what it is trying to parody. At least the film
isn't as bad as some of Danny DeVito's other recent films such as SCREWED and
WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN? An R-rated black comedy, DEATH TO SMOOCHY
is certainly not appropriate for youngsters even if they are the subjects of the
When we first meet Smoochy, he is at a methadone clinic trying to cheer up the
junkies by singing, "We'll get you off that smack. Yes, we will." Nora has
come to hire him to replace Rainbow Randolph, who has been arrested and fired
for taking bribes from parents wanting to get their kids on his show. The
network needs someone who is as pure as the driven snow, and you don't get more
wholesome than Smoochy. Rainbow is seen frequently thereafter waving guns and
whining, "I want my time slot back!"
Although most of the movie is painfully unfunny, two sequences are quite
imaginative. One occurs when Rainbow finally brings down Smoochy by tarnishing
his image, and the other happens at an ice opera. For the rest of the movie,
you'll be thinking what Rainbow pleads to Nora and Smoochy, "Put me out of my
DEATH TO SMOOCHY runs 1:49. It is rated R for "language and sexual references"
and would be acceptable for teenagers.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes