Death to Mediocrity

Smoochy is a rhino, who has taken over the time slot of a guy named Randolph Rainbow on a kids network - after Randolph is caught taking money for preferential placement of children in his audience. Randolph was at the top of his game at the time, with a substantial economy flowing from his show and its various related properties.

Now Smoochy, or rather, the human that inhabits him, is a much more idealistic sort - the kind that would have fit in well during the 1960s. His anti-commercialism brings the entrenched people in the kiddie money-making machine to despise Smoochy. And Randolph is certainly interested in revenge as well. Physical danger and confusion ensues as the different players make their moves.

As Smoochy, Edward Norton does a pretty convincing Matthew McConaghy impression - curl out his hair a little, and maybe Norton could even pass for him. He's a good actor, and the part is an interesting, though hardly challenging, but of character work. Randolph is played by Robin Williams. Of his turn toward more edgy, evil parts this year, this one is closest (quite naturally) to his usual hyperkinetic self - it's an effective transitionary role, as we almost expect him in it anyway, and seeing him there is not actually distracting at all. We also have Catherine Keener as Smoochy's requisite love interest, merged with the role of the one known nice-guy coworker for him.

Death to Smoochy seems to always be operating on the bounds of what we can reasonably believe. Each plot point seems to follow the one before it well enough, but after a while, we wonder how we got to where we were. It's a great idea for a parody here, but it straddles the line too closely. Either jump clearly over the line, or stay away from it - with this middle of road approach, we aren't left with too much to care about or believe in. There's plenty of good bits, but it's not quite enough to outweigh the uncertainty and average treatment of the material.

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