Review: You, Me & Dupree

Newly married to his sweetheart Molly (Kate Hudson), Carl (Matt Dillon) is looking forward to a time of prosperity and privacy. Suddenly, into his life comes old buddy Dupree (Owen Wilson), who needs a place to stay while he confronts his crumbling life of leisure. When Dupree's exasperating antics start to disrupt Carl and Molly's marital bliss, he looks to repair the fractured relationship, only managing to make things worse as he blissfully goes about his daily business.

Excruciating is the word that rockets to mind when describing "You, Me & Dupree" (IMDb listing). It's a summer comedy positioned to ride the coattails of the last Owen Wilson blockbuster, "Wedding Crashers," yet contains not a lick of the same inspiration or generous supporting talent. In terms of actual laughs, this is somewhere between a scorching STD and a sleepy corporate-gig Dennis Miller show.

It's the casting that trips up "Dupree." Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon are trapped playing roles that ask the worst of them. Dillon has been superb in recent years with his silly side; his acceptance of humiliation has become a thing of beauty ("There's Something About Mary"), and the actor knows how to make the absurd work. "Dupree" sticks him with the straight man role, and Dillon melts away into the background. There's nothing in the script for him to play with, and his chemistry with Owen Wilson doesn't speak years of friendship, but merely five minutes of touch football before cameras rolled.

As for Wilson, "Dupree" seems to have forgotten that it was Vince Vaughn who had the comedic thunderbolts in "Wedding Crashers," not the butterscotch stallion. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo (yep, it took two guys to make this film) play up Wilson's more obnoxious traits, losing the vital feeling of sympathy for the character by having Wilson play to the rafters.

With untamed blonde hair that looks like a cross between Ellen DeGeneres and Jeff Daniels from "Dumb and Dumber," Wilson goes for broke here, nasally drifting through the film boosted with confidence by the filmmakers (who are bizarrely secure that everything he says or does is a guaranteed laugh). Even for die-hard fans of Wilson, "Dupree" will ask a lot of you. It's tough to shake the feeling that the actor would've flourished under the more confining role of Carl, where Wilson's personality could've been put to greater use than simply impersonating extended adolescence with his desperately unfunny improvisations.

While peppered with some appealing, if completely unrealized bits of goofiness (the majority provided by co-star Seth Rogan as Carl and Dupree's whipped married friend), "Dupree" is mostly a failed sitcom, burdened with lame scripted twists that even the Fox Network would turn down. With Wilson winging most of his performance anyway, the formulaic story feels even more insulting, and smothers the calm (and unexpectedly alluring) work from Kate Hudson, who has the audacity to trust her lines as written (how dare she be so professional). By the time "You, Me & Dupree" whips out a subplot where Carl, through a "Three's Company" level of misunderstanding, believes Dupree is stealing Molly away from him, the level of storytelling laziness has already fallen on the viewers like a Vegas hotel on demolition day, and it takes resolve of steel to not sprint out of the theater.

Filmfodder Grade: D-