Monday, July 24

The Mainstream Screwball-i-ness of You, Me & Dupree

"The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded...that spirit of an America which...never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans [who together] create it....

Judge Learned Hand
The Spirit of Liberty p. 190-1 (1944).

It slipped past unnoticed by everyone. We have been far too distracted by other issues, by other people telling us how bad things are. The bad that spread to all other areas of our lives and to our few esacpes: the scripts, the actors, the convoluted editing that still can't disgiuise CGIs from actual scenery. We have unwittingly become more sophisticated than the CGI, and the camera lens. It appears that while actors are moving to CGIs, they aren't really "acting" in those scenes (they aren't given the time nor the words to).
With the price of tickets at the bottom of critiquing many movies unworthy to see by myriad detractors, we've been told what to see and look for. So often now, for over a decade at least, we didn't even recognize their effect on our own changing lives. Our old fartiness has shrivelled our minds into judgements we have forgotten how to make objectively. We need to be shaken out of this pending disaster mentality. It is wearing us down. It is wearing us out! I, personally, have been sick of me, for at least as long I have listened to all the negativity surrounding my media choices.
I have suspected deeper happenings for several months now and I just assumed it was because I was behind the curve. But every ten years or so things get drastic, they culminate from many inklings, from an expertise that is culled and crafted, out of many short term experiences, even though they are looking us straight in our eyes. The long run is here! We have to come out of ourselves and look. I was shaken out, during my weekly movie date, while viewing the film "You, Me and Dupree." And I get it! I have proudly discovered that our young ones are just as praiseworthy as any of us in any generation in their skill and abilities, actors included.
The critics panned "Dupree" as unworthy, albeit, another dumb experience the whole family should do well to avoid. The same critics who pan these films have become those the audience must see and become hits at the box ofice. And in opposite they avoid the acclaimed films because they suspect some larger ulterior motive at hand. They initially panned hits such as "50 First Dates" and "Dumb and Dumber." I tend to follow the typical audience regards films.
In this instance I criticize the critics. They were wrong to pan "Dupree." It, like "Cinderella Man" and "Failure to Launch" have struck a deep resonnance with its audience and is not forgotten afterwards. Even "Dupree's" advertisers appeared to blast it. I was rather insulted by the trailer and found the movie to be much better its media rushes. My low expectations were actually lifted up. It belies a hidden sophistication for the audience to discover. And a modern day feel of the old films I still love so much.
"Dupree" is as funny as "My Man Godfrey" or "Bringing Up Baby" ever was. The character development is outstanding. When "Scarlett," the sequel to "Gone with the Wind" was made, all the critics could say was that the only thing wrong with Joanne Whalley Kilmer was that she wasn't Vivien Leigh. It is an insulting comparative to make for both generations involved. "Dupree" wasn't made during WWII, but of the same ilk. It is entertaining and one goes in with ready made expectations of what the film will be like.
The decent filming and editing would makes it a passable film for its genre. All the characters are deeply involved with each other, and that makes it a great audience experience. For a change we are not talked out of liking it with spectacular effects that become boring staying in our seats for too long. We are want to be there for the film, as welcome participants. With "Dupree" there is more to deal with than a battle of the sexes and warring generation gaps.
On the surface the film suggests "tainted moneygrabber" and implies stealing from other films. Gordon Gecko is there, Michael Douglas is a jealous, almost irate, empty nester. But, Gecko never rears his ugly head. The Wiseguy newlywed husband is there, Matt Dillon as the pent-up angry, befuddled hubby...we are just waiting for the godfather to show up for a shootout or a bloodfest to break out, but it never dhappens. The bitchy spoiled controlling typical Hollywood wife has got to be there, and she is. But she is a minor character, as the wife of Dillon's conning buddy Neil. The naive dumb rocker newlywed wife doormat, should be there, the same as her dippy mother in a different generation, but WHOAA!! OUR EXPECTATIONS ARE TOTALLY REVERSED HERE!!!! Kate Hudson has come into her own actor-ness, finally, a fun and practical, working wife. She is a tribute to Goldie, not a genetic copy (and that had to take some years of doing!) Of "Dupree" himself, the split personality dumb and dumber character we expect to get stupider and very seriously injured or worse is actually saved by his good-ness. Owen Wilson delivers his best ever warmt-hearted bohemian. The film actually works to defy audience expectations.
And the film actually works well. I expected it to turn into an Albert Brooks musical at any minute, but it didin't go there. I found myself grateful that there was no singing! And I was relieved it didn't stray into the actors' past roles because I would have strayed along with them, into their past with my past, and resented them for it. The film did not go there. It looked ahead, which was a nice change and a fitting audience finale. With the Audrey Hepburn, extreme games, and Lance Armstrong tributes, it has a happy unexpected result. This cast of very talented actors, competed from the get-go to be so emotionally generous and entertaining that we`would want to look to the future; that is the gift of "Dupree."
There is another "gift of Dupree, too. An a la Dan Brown controversy brewing. It has been reported by the associated Press that "Dupree," the movie is a rip-off of Steely Dan's tune "Cousin Dupree," which won a 2001 Grammy Award for best pop performance. The band asked appear at a concert to apologize to their fans. "In a statement released by his spokeswoman, Ina Treciokas, Wilson said: "I have never heard the song `Cousin Dupree' and I don't even know who this gentleman, Mr. Steely Dan, is. I hope this helps to clear things up and I can get back to concentrating on my new movie, `HEY 19.'" Hey 19 is a song made famous by Steely Dan. This is one of those generic groups everybody knows of. And there appears to be a lot of mockery from both sides. The screwball-i-ness of the film is set to imitate grim money-grubbing reality. The name Dupree came fom somewhere, no doubt. Here are the a la Dan, FYI:

Artist: Steely Dan
Song: Cousin Dupree
Album: Two Against Nature

Well I've kicked around a lot since high school
I've worked a lot of nowhere gigs
From keyboard man in a rock'n ska band
To haulin' boss crude in the big rigs
Now I've come back home to plan my next move
From the comfort of my Aunt Faye's couch
When I see my little cousin Janine walk in
All I could say was ow-ow-ouch

Honey how you've grown
Like a rose
Well we used to play
When we were three
How about a kiss for your cousin Dupree

She turned my life into a living hell
In those little tops and tight capris
I pretended to be readin' the National Probe
As I was watchin' her wax her skis
On Saturday night she walked in with her date
And backs him up against the wall
I tumbled off the couch and heard myself sing
In a voice I never knew I had before


I'll teach you everything I know
If you teach me how to do that dance
Life is short and quid pro quo
And what's so strange about a down-home family romance?

One night we're playin' gin by a cracklin' fire
And I decided to make my play
I said babe with my boyish charm and good looks
How can you stand it for one more day
She said maybe its the skeevy look in your eyes
Or that your mind has turned to applesauce
The dreary architecture of your soul
I said - but what is it exactly turns you off?

I seem to recall a news tidbit, way back when, that George Clooney started out in a friend's closet before moving up to his aunt Rosemary's couch....My guess is this becomes one of those ridiculous court cases in the near future. Legally, both titles are different enough, and both personalities are different enough to be quickly dismissed, as titles are generally not copyrightable, unless trademarked, and neither is a book (as of yet). "Dupree," is only part of the titles, but someone should have checked, known, and caught this striking similarity during pre-production. Hopefully, as it generally follows in the "screwball" genre, this controversy won't last and will end in belly laughs on all sides.
The only downside to the film is more of the characters should have been racially diverse. It is a sign of our times that diversity sells. And that may keep "Dupree" from spreading to as broad an audience as it deserves. If you can see beyond what other people tell you, take a chance on "You, Me, and Dupree." This film remains moderate in all areas, and ends with genuine mush. But, this is not a chick flick nor kid flick, nor buddy flick, it is a film for all generations to relate to. And like me, everybody should leave with some enduring thoughts on their lives to take home with them. To put confused memories and sorrow back into perspective, and move forward.