reviewed by: Tim Freeman
Happy, feel-good movies can often be said to be cheesy movies as well. You, Me and Dupree has a lot of cheese, but none in the bad sense. The power-packed performance of the characters carries the weight and message of the film more than the plot and script does. Rather than just seeing these characters, we are feeling them.
What begins as a typical comedy about a guy named Dupree (played by Owen Wilson) who crashes at his best friends house only to be the most obnoxious guest ever, quickly turns into a roller coaster ride of testosterone and adrenaline pumped emotion. Dupree’s best friend, whose name is Carl (played by Matt Dillon) just married a beautiful hot blond named Molly (played by Kate Hudson) and the last thing these newlyweds want is the freeloading Dupree spoiling their post-nuptial vibes with his ononistic antics and intolerable aloofness to etiquette. Carl has a glitzy job at a developing firm and Molly is an elementary school teacher and they have a new house in the suburbs. When it is discovered that Dupree--who was Carl’s best man at their wedding--is sleeping on a cot in a bar and has no job, Carl has no choice but to capitulate and offer him temporary residence in their home. “It will only be for a week or two,” Carl explains to Molly. “He’s my best friend.”
Molly knows something is not right when Dupree enters their house with a beanbag chair slung over one arm and a giant moose head tucked underneath the other. In the morning Molly and Carl descend the stairs only to witness the sight of a naked Dupree sprawled on their couch with his hairy ass protruding in a grizly way. Things only unravel from here and reach a crescendo when Dupree practically burns down their house one night in a sexual ritual with a librarian that involves a lot of candles and butter. They finally tell Dupree the next morning that he has to go and Dupree leaves on his ten speed determined to go live with the librarian. That evening, however, Carl and Molly discover a shivering Dupree sitting on a park bench in the pouring rain. Overcome with empathy, Molly convinces Carl to take Dupree back in until he can get his shit together. Dupree is determined not to waste this second chance he has been given and sets off to make things right with his generous hosts. He cleans up the mess he made when he set the fire and remodels the front of the house. He writes Thank You letters to everyone who gave Carl and Molly gifts at their wedding, a job Carl was supposed to do but passed off to Dupree. And he writes romantic poetry.
Meanwhile Carl is having a stressful time at work dealing with his boss (played by Michael Douglas) who is also his father-in-law. Carl finds out only too late that his boss/father-in-law does not approve of him marrying his daughter. The hints Douglas’s character drops range from oblique, subtle suggestions to direct, outright declarations of his dislike for Carl (in one scene he tells Carl that he should have a vasectomy and gives him a pamphlet describing the procedure). Carl’s rage gets worked into a frenzy by all of this which is only exacerbated by his creeping suspicion that Molly is falling for Dupree. As Carl becomes more distant--coming home late from work, drinking, gaining weight--Molly seeks emotional comfort in Dupree who has been the perfect picture of mellowness lately. Dupree, however, has too much integrity to sleep with his best friend’s wife even if she does happen to be Kate Hudson.
The movie at this point becomes a whirlwind of energy-laced, nerve racking emotion has Carl seems to experience nothing short of a nervous breakdown. Dillon’s performance is electrifying if not at times completely scary. Even Owen Wilson’s mastery of the mellow-guy persona cannot tame it. Kate Hudson gets pushed to the side by it as well but she still manages to hold her own in some scenes. Somewhere on the margins of all of this is Douglas poking and pushing a few buttons. But Carl is a monster, and he is too blind to see that he loves Molly and too quick to assume that his best friend would go behind his back and betray him. And as for his boss/father-in-law? Carl almost literally attacks him when they invite him over for dinner one night only to be whacked on the head by Michael Douglas who brandishes a candlestick for defense.
This is where Dupree must step up and put the pieces back together. Owen Wilson’s mellow-guy persona grows at this point to fill up everything until it is glowing. Dillon’s fuse has burned out and Wilson, instead of stealing and running away with the spotlight, transfers some of his life-giving love to Dillon and restores him to his former likeable self in the end. What happens is nothing short of magical and will leave audiences feeling transformed and inspired when they leave the theater or get up from the couch. It is a happy message that leaves a good feeling in its wake, and like the song that plays while the credits are rolling, it will makes you want to get up and “Bust a Move.” If you take your girlfriend to see this movie you will probably go home and bust a move with her after it is over. If you go to this movie with a group of friends in all likelihood you will go out dancing afterwards and bust a move. This is the impact of the inspirational feeling projected at the end of You, Me and Dupree. It is one of hope and rebirth. But like a lot of feel-good messages these days its sensation is not lasting. It most likely won’t carry over into the next week or month or even year. It will last the whole night and leave you feeling refreshed the next morning but that is it.
But this is in no way an excuse not to see You, Me and Dupree. The power of the movie lies in its ability to take us to the edge and safely bring us back. In this way we are reminded that it is always darkest before the dawn, and the film serves this message like a spicy plate of nachos: it is hot and fiery at first but will leave us purged afterwards. Seeing this movie is like having a front row seat of an NFL game where the crunch and vibrations from the tackles is palpable enough that you can almost taste the blood in your mouth. Except this NFL game would end with an hour long sermon by one of the world’s finest motivational speakers and Lance Armstrong just might even make an appearance (“That guy’s done more with one nut than we’ve done with four,” Dupree tells Carl in one scene). The only thing You, Me and Dupree will leave us longing for in the end is a future that is wide open with possibilities, and, in this reviewer’s opinion, a slutty mystery librarian as well.