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Owen Wilson's goofy antics amuse in 'You, me'

By M.V. Moorhead

July 15, 2006

The “You” in You, Me and Dupree is Molly, played by Kate Hudson, a cuddly, infinitely patient and loving elementary-school teacher.

The “Me” is her new husband Carl, played by Matt Dillon, a residential property designer who works for Molly’s passive-aggressively bullying father (Michael Douglas).

Days after Carl and Molly return from their honeymoon, Carl’s beloved, irresponsible best friend Randy Dupree, who’s suddenly unemployed and homeless, moves in with them. Dupree is played by Owen Wilson.

For better or worse, Wilson appears to be a true original among movie stars. There’s no comedy star quite like him—the golden-boy looks, textured by the broken nose, are offset by the high, nasal voice with its unhurried, twangy diction and its insistent undercurrent of defensive wheedling.

His routines derive from his unflappable sincerity, a gentle, approval-seeking gush that pre-emptively turneth away wrath. Like Bill Murray, he’s a hustler, but where Murray uses hipster’s guile, Wilson hustles his costars, and us, with his dizzy guilelessness.

The role of Dupree in You, Me and Dupree is tailored to this persona, and Wilson’s inappropriate yet somehow inoffensive antics keep the film chugging along, despite its sluggish, awkward plot, and the blandness of almost everyone else onscreen with him.

Dillon, who has shown a fine talent for deadpan comedy in the past—he’s even been brilliant at least once, in Gus Van Sant’s Drugstore Cowboy—seems to have put his personality in storage for this movie. Probably he thought the wisest move here was simply to back off and play straight man to Wilson’s antics, but there’s a difference between a straight man and an invisible man.

Kate Hudson is a little more noticeable, and not only because she’s shown as often as possible in skimpy underwear and bathing suits—she’s also got her usual smiling sweetness and warmth, even in the face of Dupree’s unsavory imposition, and she connects with the audience.

But the character of Molly doesn’t have any depth. She’s nice—improbably nice, considering that her father seems like a predatory creep (the same predatory creep that Douglas has been playing regularly since Wall Street)—but she’s not particularly interesting.

That pretty much sums up the movie, too.

Thanks to Wilson, it’s a little better to sit through than it looks like it would be from the TV commercials, but that’s not exactly high praise. The theme—the effect that marriage inevitably has on male friendships—is a venerable one, and from time to time Wilson brings the film to psychological life.

But the directors, brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, working from a script by Mike LeSieur, keep pushing it back into flat, contrived slapstick.

Of course, if a movie, even a comedy, were to portray this premise too realistically, it would be probably have to be a lot darker and more painful than You, Me and Dupree has the slightest intention of being. But even in the context of a sunny, silly summer comedy, Owen Wilson’s goofy energy deserved a little less short-circuiting.


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