Death to Smoochy | Chicago Reader

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Children's television seems a fine subject for a nasty little satire about corruption, backstabbing, and cynicism. The Simpsons has been mining this territory for a decade, but Death to Smoochy—about a washed-up children's show host seeking revenge on his successor, a guy in a rhino suit who sings ditties about understanding and sugar-free snacking—never lives up to its Barney-bashing premise. It's hard to pinpoint where things go wrong. Partly it's the script, which assumes that the idea of a children's host swearing is inherently hilarious (Robin Williams says “I'm Rainbow fucking Randolph” more than a dozen times). Partly it's the performances, including Edward Norton's unfocused take on his supersincere New Age character. And partly it's Danny DeVito's direction, which never quite settles on a tone: he aims for the acid wit of The War of the Roses but winds up with forced, often obvious jokes. 101 min.

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