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Death to Smoochy

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In Death to Smoochy, released in 2002, we meet the colorful world of children's television programming where a host is falling from grace and a new, hopeful character is poised to take his place. Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) has been the wildly popular host of "The Rainbow Randolph Show" for years, but it's all about to come crashing down around him. Randolph is caught accepting bribes from parents hoping to get their children onto his show, and he's summarily fired from his position. The network, fearing a loss of child viewership, decides to hire a new host to take Randolph's place, and the man they choose is Sheldon Mopes (Edward Norton), otherwise known by his on-screen character, Smoochy the Rhino.

Smoochy is everything that Randolph is not – sweet, innocent, and gentle, with a tendency to break into song at the drop of a hat. The grateful network executives are thrilled with their new host, and Smoochy soon becomes a sensation on the airwaves as the most popular children's show character in America. But this newfound fame attracts the attention of a seedy, criminal element that is hoping to cash in on Smoochy's success. Burke Bennett (Danny DeVito), a corrupt agent, approaches Mopes with an opportunity to create Smoochy-themed merchandise, including branded ice cream and cereal, without informing the network. Mopes rejects the offer to remain true to his character and his morals, much to the chagrin of Bennett.

As Smoochy becomes a bigger and bigger success, the animosity between Randolph and Mopes only grows. Randolph, now reduced to appearing in seedy adult venues, sees Smoochy as everything wrong with television programming for children – too saccharine, too sanitized, too far removed from the world of real children. Randolph, with his twisted mind, decides to take revenge on Smoochy and his own, disgraced position with drastic measures to take down a character he despises.

Director Danny DeVito, who also appears in the film as Bennett, has crafted an outrageous, surreal satire that is both hilarious and poignant at the same time. The humor can be sharp, even nasty at times, but it is always hilarious. When a screaming Randolph works himself into a sweat in captivity, or when Smoochy sings a kids' version of "Friends Come in All Sizes," Death to Smoochy truly shines. DeVito doesn't just make fun of the world of children's programming, but of the entire entertainment industry, and the result is a darkly comedic gem that deserves to be seen.

Robin Williams, as the despised Rainbow Randolph, is absolutely brilliant. He takes his character from a brilliant and successful children's performer to a miserable, drug-addled mess of an ex-host with ease. At times he is a joy to behold on screen as he delivers his often insane lines with panache, and at other times he is sincerely and powerfully moving. It's one of his best performances, and that's saying something.

The same can be said for Edward Norton, who brings an endearing naivete to the role of Mopes. He's the perfect choice to play Smoochy, with his slight frame and unassuming nature. Catherine Keener, as Nora Wells, the network exec who hires and promotes Smoochy, is fantastic too, and brings a sly sensuality to her scenes, which adds yet another dimension to the already rich tapestry that is Death to Smoochy.

The film is a bleak satire that captures the corruption of the entertainment industry with pinpoint accuracy. While it is gory and ridiculous in parts, it has much to say about the intrusion of commercialism into every aspect of popular culture, and is one of the most original and genuinely funny comedies of recent times. It's not for the faint-hearted, but for those looking for a savage satire with some of the most brilliant performances in contemporary cinema, it's well worth checking out.

Death to Smoochy is a Comedy, Crime, Drama, Thriller movie released in 2002. It has a runtime of 107 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.3. It also holds a MetaScore of 38.

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Where can I stream Death to Smoochy movie online? Death to Smoochy is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Death to Smoochy for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Danny DeVito
Robin Williams, Edward Norton, Danny DeVito, Catherine Keener, Jon Stewart
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