July 20, 2006

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You, Me and Dupree (PG-13)
Charm can sell a lot of things (cars, pants that are alleged to be slimming, an extra bottle of snake oil) but sadly even the unshakeable charm of Owen Wilson can’t quite sell the romantic comedy You, Me and Dupree.

Molly (Kate Hudson) and Carl (Matt Dillon) are the picture perfect newly married couple (including the impossibly swank furniture in their ridiculously plush house). Sure, Carl is a bit aggravated by Molly’s dad (Michael Douglas), who is also Carl’s boss and seems bent on driving Carl nuts, but otherwise life for them is good-ish.

Enter Dupree (Wilson), Carl’s arrested development best man and lifelong friend.

Dupree needs a place to crash and Carl invites him to crash at the newlywed pad, not realizing how much Carl has upset the delicate ecosystem of the newly married home. Molly makes girly frowns at their boys’ night antics and throws whispered yells (you know, the tone couples adopt when they fight in the kitchen but don’t want the dinner guests to hear) when Dupree takes over the answering machine and spends sleepless nights watching porn in the living room.

Ah, but just as Dupree claims that Carl has an inherent “Carlness” that won’t be smothered by Molly’s intimidating father, Dupree has a Dupreeness. Despite his bad boy behavior, Molly slowly finds herself charmed by his slacker “live for the moment” philosophy and by the fact that he’s around to have dinner with when Carl’s at work. Carl raises his eyebrow and deepens his scowl — is his best friend trying to move in on his wife?

No.

Nor is Molly interested in Dupree. Nor do any of the other things that could make this bit of stale wedding cake tasty ever happen at any point in the movie. The early stage of marriage is weird and unsettling and full of comic potential but nary a toe does You, Me and Dupree dip in this pool. Nor does it really get into the territory of motivating the unmotivatable friend (oh, there’s some nonsense about waiting for the mother ship to send instructions to the pod but basically Dupree’s couch-squatting and bathroom destroying is treated as an amusing bit of whimsy).

Instead of plot (or smart writing), You, Me and Dupree is movie crafted solely out of this Three’s Company-style houseguest-from-heck set-up (Kate Hudson never once gets believably angry) and the beach-bum lovability of Wilson. From his golden locks to his ability to deliver a throwaway comic line with so much earnestness that the funny hits you, time-release-style, in small amounts throughout his screen time, Wilson is built to be loved in the movies. But just as in marriage love is not always enough to make it work, my love of Owen’s Owenness doesn’t keep You, Me and Dupree from quickly becoming a mushy, plodding wreck. D


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