It’s a sad reality that modern-day comedies are congratulated for being mediocre. “Hey man, this comedy didn’t completely suck!” should not be enough of a selling point for people to race to the multiplex to enjoy, at most, a few chuckles. While You, Me and Dupree isn’t nearly the worst comedy of the year (take a bow, Hoodwinked), it has nothing exceptional to offer. It kind of just kicks its feet up and overstays its welcome, much like the film’s central unwanted houseguest.
Dupree, played by shaggy-haired Owen Wilson, flies to Hawaii to watch his old buddy Carl (Matt Dillon) marry his lovely girlfriend Molly (Kate Hudson). As soon as he steps into the picture—or in his case, crashes onto the wrong island—the honeymoon is over. But Carl, being the generous/foolishly naive guy that he is, invites his newly-fired, homeless best man to crash at their house for a few days until he lands back on his feet. Within one week he clogs every toilet, orders HBO without permission, and botches an interview by proudly admitting he is not much of a workhorse. It looks like the third wheel has no intention of rolling away anytime soon.
Within this set-up, there are a lot of prime (albeit obvious) opportunities for Dupree to embarrass himself and hilariously appall his new roommates. While You, Me and Dupree does this dance for a while, it mistakenly tries another clumsily executed move, deciding somewhere in the middle to idolize its pesky lead character. He is no longer the annoying, middle-aged grubbing slacker; he’s the misunderstood, good-at-heart guy who cries at Audrey Hepburn movies and feels inspired by Lance Armstrong. Oh yeah, and did I mention he also writes poetry?
The bad-guy role gets randomly forced upon Carl, the workaholic husband who doesn’t spend enough time at home because he’s a slave to his overbearing boss/father-in-law (Michael Douglas) at the office. While he is busy earning an income, Dupree addresses a classroom of kids and says, “My career is living and loving, and I do that to the utmost.” Right, on his friend’s dime—what an inspiration. Gone are the silly gags and in its place are work woes, a flailing marriage, and a forced subplot of Dupree nursing a broken heart. How hilarious.
What happened to the comedy in this movie? There isn’t much to begin with, but screenwriter Mike LeSieur can’t keep it going and even “Arrested Development” directors Anthony and Joe Russo seem stuck in neutral. It’s a shame too, because the cast is excellent and they all bring more to their roles than they deserve: Kate Hudson offers a surprisingly loveable performance, Matt Dillon continues the quiet rage he mastered in Crash, and Owen Wilson is up to more bubbly shenanigans. You, Me and Dupree is not a complete waste of a movie, but that shouldn’t be enough to sell out a theater on Friday night. Rest assured, even if it doesn’t make you laugh, the movie executives will—all the way to the bank.