Death to Smoochy
Robin Williams and Ed Norton star in this dark comedy about dirty politics in the world of children’s television. Williams plays children’s show star Rainbow Randolph who gets caught taking bribes to put some children ahead of others on his show. When Randolph falls in disgrace, KidNet television want a new star who’s ethical and “squeaky clean.” Norton plays Sheldon Mopes, whose pink rhinoceros character, Smoochy, seems to be the only choice left with any moral principles. But Randolph sees Smoochy taking his place and plots to have him face a worse scandal, so Randolph can return to his former glory.
In this satire, even charitable agencies are mob-controlled and extortion used to make deals. When Sheldon won’t play the game, his agent, a former network exec, and the charity mob are a bigger problem than Randolph. But Smoochy has made a few friends along the way. Made for the anti-Barney crowd, the film has humorous moments, but William’s character frequently spouts obscenities and one scene has him run through a gamut of slang expressions for genitals. But Smoochy also reminds us of the positive things children learn from characters like Captain Kangaroo or shows like SESAME STREET. Sheldon even makes positive comments about Jesus focusing on his work rather than the perks. Without the frequent vulgarities, SMOOCHY could have attracted a larger crowd.