"Houseguests and fish both start to stink after three days." -- Italian Proverb.
The ushers and attendants, the family dependents, all that jazz: Carl Peterson (Matt Dillon) and Molly Thompson (Kate Hudson) are getting married. In the rush and crush of a Hawaii wedding, Molly's looking forward to the post-ceremony calm: as she says to a harried Carl, "Remember, when this is all over, it's just you and me." Adding complications is the fact that Carl's lifelong friend Dupree (Owen Wilson) is the Best Man. The position's actually a little ironic, because Dupree doesn't live up to the title. It's not that Dupree is a bad man; it's just that he's not much of a man at all. A free-spirit who lives by whim, Dupree's got a devil-may-care life that people admire ... and, soon after Molly and Carl's wedding, no home. Carl and Molly take pity on Dupree and let him crash with them; after all, how bad can it be?
After Dupree upgrades the house's cable to include HBO, Carl explains Dupree's cohabitation barriers: "He's never really been domesticated; he's like the ape man of Borneo. ..."
Directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (veterans of TV's Arrested Development), You, Me and Dupree is one of those mid-range comedies that charms you more than it knocks you flat. I can't exactly call You, Me and Dupree 'realistic' but it does have a nice, slow-pitch feel; it wants to cajole you into laughter, not beat you silly, and some of the best jokes are slow-burn delayed-fuse numbers that take a few seconds to creep onto your radar, or lie hidden in the background of the scene. Cinematical's Jeffery M. Anderson waggishly noted that "The only problem with You, Me and Dupree is 'You' and 'Me.' It's a good line, and a true one. Or, rather, Dillon and Hudson aren't the problem, per se -- it's just that this is Wilson's show, and the lion's share of screen time goes to Wilson's eccentric, loopy delivery and Zen-dimwit presence. Which, frankly, is fine: I doubt I'd want to see Wilson play Hamlet, but he's yet to outwear his welcome, and offers living proof that, yes, you can get by on charm alone in Hollywood.
And it's not that Dillon and Hudson are bad; just under-written. Mike LeSieur's script doesn't focus on Carl and Molly's Dupree-less life enough to give us a sense of what they lose when Dupree brings his beanbag chair and moose head into their home. Carl and Molly are obviously in love, which is complicated not only by Dupree's naked, sprawling form face-down on their couch, but also by Carl's position working under Molly's real-estate mogul dad (Michael Douglas). Douglas brings a zest to Thompson-- telling Carl his dreams of a small eco-community have been transformed into a grotesque development that's a "money train," and then having a heart-to-heart with him about how perhaps Carl should take Molly's last name, and/or think about vasectomy as an option. ...
As for Dillon and Hudson, they both bring what you'd expect to the mix: Dillon's hard-headed stand-up guy persona is used to good effect here (he simply can't, for example, not take care of Dupree), while Hudson plays the standard-issue romantic-comedy wife -- sweet, sexy, supportive and capable of changing her mind the millisecond the plot requires it. There's nothing here that comes off as terribly original -- you could have re-titled You, Me and Dupree 'The Post-Wedding Crasher' -- but it's agreeable enough, especially as you notice little touches like a saucy Dewey decimal bumper sticker on a school librarian's car, or the late-in-the-film trip to St. Hubbins Hospital.
But this movie's Wilson's to win or lose, and he barely drags the film to the finish line. Wilson's such a talented writer -- or, rather, he understands his own persona better than anyone else -- that you have to wonder if some of his best lines came from LeSieur's pen or Wilson's brain. Caught, uh, pleasing himself to Carl's hidden porn stash, Dupree is aghast: "An animal wouldn't debase himself thus." Adressing Molly's classroom on Career Day, Dupree tries to connect with the future versions of himself in the crowd. Some of you will have important jobs, he notes -- and then adds " ... but some of you are just going to float along, eating a lot of spicy foods ... humming Black people's music into your '30s. ... Well into your '30s."
And in the end, Dupree shapes up, even as Carl and Molly come together stronger, looser and better than before thanks to the ape-man of Boreno's loopy, shaggy life wisdom. Carl even stands up to Molly's dad, while Molly, uh, stands about and looks great -- and learns a little about letting go, I guess. In a comedy movie landscape where most 'comedies' are special-effects driven junk (Little Man, Click) or dishwater dull (Fun with Dick and Jane, RV) or wholly idiotic (Nacho Libre, Little Man), You Me and Dupree can succeed in part simply for not failing.