I guess you have to be suspicious of a movie made in 2002 that is making fun of Barney. Which was a children’s show that was popular for a while a couple years back. Barney is one of those things that everybody in the world hates, but then some people think they are the only ones who hate, and that they are being subversive by complaining about it. But hating Barney is as unique as liking pizza or chocolate. “No way! You like pizza too? I can’t believe this!” There’s not really anything subversive about connecting a lovable tv icon and murder. It’s old.
I still like this premise though, that since there’s so much money in children’s television, there also must be corruption. So scenariographer Adam Resnick and directator Daniel DeVito paint a portrait of the seedy underbelly of children’s television, where children’s tv stars are caught up in bribery and stalking and murder. The story begins with a great scene where Robin Williams as “Rainbow Randolph” takes a bribe from parents to have their kid featured on his show. The bribe is a suitcase half full of wrinkly ten dollar bills, and Randolph says “You want me to put your little booger eater on my show?” Next thing you know, though, he’s walking out with the money, and the parents pop up with guns and yell “Freeze, cocksucker!”
Then Edward Norton from the 1999 Outlaw Award Winner for Best Fuckin Picture FIGHT CLUB enters as Smoochy, a purple guitar playing health nut rhinocerous. He plays the part as kind of a half imitation of Woody Harrelson. Mr. Resnick, in an interview, described his character as being like Serpico, an ethical person who comes into a world of corruption and struggles to stay on a straight path. Kind of like me I guess also.
Anyway all kinds of wackiness ensues as Rainbow Randolph keeps trying to set up Smoochy, and the Irish mob and a brain dead former boxer and some other colorful individuals get involved. And there are jokes and what not.
There are some real funny lines in this picture. Vincent Schiavelli says, “Sorry if I smell like piss, but you know how it is.” Smoochy says, “There are kids and junkies out there counting on me!” I guess you had to be there.
Robin Williams is also surprisingly un-annoying. The filmatists get more mileage than you’d expect out of having Mr. “I always star in crap like Patch Adams” yelling motherfucker and cock and etc. Even I was laughing a couple times. He also gets a couple of magical Rainbow Randolph moments. There is a well choreographed dance through the city and an end credits “ice dancing” scene. I don’t know if you know what ice dancing is, but it is like ice skating except even more for fairies. There is one guy I saw on tv who does ice dancing based on major motion pictures. He did one based on CASTAWAY, with a volleyball, a fire and everything. The next day he did one based on WILD WILD WEST, with a cardboard saloon. I shit you not, this really exists. In this movie I liked it though, in my opinion.
Still this is a pretty obvious movie with lots of scenes where the music tries to convince you that it is more whimsical and funny than it actually is. You won’t be completely wasting your time but it doesn’t live up to its potential.
NOTE WRITTEN FOUR YEARS LATER: sorry for the “fairies” comment above. I wish I could say I literally meant magical fairies like tinkerbell, but I was probaly just being ignorant there. also, I’d just like to point out that this is probaly the most positive review ever written of this movie.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.