Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson are newlyweds Carl and Molly Peterson. Dupree is played by Owen Wilson, who, when with the right partner, shines with his uniquely deadpan surfer-dude comic style. Well cast opposite Vince Vaughn in last summer’s Wedding Crashers, Wilson was even funnier as the male model Hansel, Ben Stiller’s rival in Zoolander. But Dillon and Hudson are clearly not the appropriate foils.
Having lost his job, his home and his company car, Dupree temporarily moves in with Carl and Molly. Then he refuses to get a job or properly use a toilet plunger. He redecorates their tasteful home with tacky gewgaws, throws a bash with strippers while Molly is at work, and incites a scuffle with neighborhood children. Then he has a date with Molly’s librarian friend, and engages in some kinky sex that leads to a house fire. Clearly, Dupree can do no right.
But suddenly the filmmakers change course, and Dupree turns into a sensitive romantic who idolizes Audrey Hepburn, writes love sonnets and haiku, refinishes hardwood floors and whips up gourmet meals. He bonds with Molly, who confides in him about her increasingly distant husband.
Then the movie turns on Carl, who is shafted at every turn: by his overbearing land-developer father-in-law (a lackluster Michael Douglas), by his newly metrosexual buddy Dupree and even by his now-disillusioned wife.
There was no previous indication Dupree ever had a sensitive side. But now he is poetic, accomplished and brainy, “catching up on back issues” of Mensa bulletins, even though for most of the movie he seems decidedly dim.
In almost all of his scenes, Douglas looks befuddled. No doubt he’s as confused as the audience is about the nature of his character and those of his co-stars.
You, Me and Dupree is a movie in search of a premise and a comedy in search of what few feeble laughs it can elicit. Directors Anthony and Joe Russo worked on the clever TV comedy Arrested Development, so they would seem perfect choices for a movie about a lovable man-child. Perhaps they needed a couple more story meetings to flesh the concept out. There was probably a funny movie in there somewhere, just waiting to break out.