Buried Treasure: Death to Smoochy [2002]

Death-To-Smoochy-Robin-WilliamsPrepare to meet your new favourite film.

Released in 2002 this black comedy directed by and co-starring Danny DeVito is what Buried Treasure is all about. largely overlooked at cinema and on DVD, this comic gem deserves to be seen by every man, woman and child (when they’re old enough).

Robin Williams plays children’s TV entertainer Rainbow Randolph, he was once the toast of the town and beloved by millions. All this changes when Randolph gets arrested for taking pay offs from parents to put their children on his show. No sooner does news of his incarceration, Randolph is quickly fired and his life becomes a downward spiral of madness and bitterness.

In steps Catherine Keener as Nora, a TV executive who once produced The Rainbow Randolph Show but is now looking for something more wholesome to take its place. Nora convinces Sheldon to bring Smoochy to TV and  it’s not long before Smoochy is a Television phenomenon around the world.

Reduced to living on the streets, a vengeful Randolph grows ever more unbalanced as he waits for his moment to kill the Rhino and take back his rightful place in the spotlight. Williams always excels at playing manic characters, Randolph is his finest disturb comic creation and he gives this unhinged character everything he’s got.

Cop: “Are you ok?”

Randolph: “I don’t know. I’m kinda fucked up in general, so it’s hard to gauge“. [He faints]

Smoochy is a difficult film to pigeon-hole and it’s all the better for it, Devito is no stranger to this though as his earlier directorial efforts The War of The Roses and Throw Mamma From The Trains were  great pitch black comedies that were a hard sell to the masses. There are appearances from Jon Stewart, Pam Ferris and Michael Rispoli as former boxer Spinner who adds real heart to the film almost steals the show. The secret weapon is a never better performance from Robin Williams, his descent into insanity is cinematic gold and I don’t recall a performance this uninhibited since The Fisher King. Robin Williams is a comedic genius who has been trapped making kids films for quite some time, although I’ve enjoyed many of those it is joyous to see the manic comedian firing on all cylinders.

Danny DeVito clearly enjoys the darker side of humour and it’s a shame Smoochy didn’t find a bigger audience, if you have yet to see him in the fantastic “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” then you need to go over to Netflix right now and take 3 days off work.

Death To Smoochy is well worth tracking down on DVD, the only thing you’ll regret is not finding this film sooner.

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