'You, Me & Dupree's ace in the hole is that everyone has had that one insufferable friend-of-a-friend -- the kind who's obnoxious, vulgar and always overstays his welcome. Who can't relate to those awful, uncomfortable moments when said freeloader is sitting on the couch, munching on your last bag of chips, but you just gotta be nice to him because, well, he's our sister's future ex-husband? Of course, family pain makes for great comedy, which 'You, Me & Dupree' exploits to the fullest. Though how much you enjoy the film depends on how much cringe you can handle with your chuckles.
Newlyweds Carl (Matt Dillon) and Molly (Kate Hudson) are just beginning their life together when Carl's oldest friend, the down-and-out, perennial bachelor Randy Dupree (Owen Wilson), crashes on the couch. One comic mishap follows another as Dupree's behavior grows increasingly ingratiating, and he has no intention to leave. For Carl and Molly, it is a strain their new marriage just can't support, and it soon becomes obvious that while two is company, Dupree is a crowd.
What generates the biggest guffaws in 'You, Me & Dupree' is not the slapstick and outlandish gags. The moments that ring true are the martial stresses that Carl's allegiance to Dupree brings to his relationship with Molly. This is universal stuff, and Dillon and Hudson create a real, believable chemistry that makes us actually like them as people. Unfortunately, Dupree is indeed the spoiler of the party. Perhaps modern comedy is still stuck on the whole 'There's Something About Mary' thing, or the filmmakers and studio felt Dillon and Hudson wouldn't be funny enough on their own, but Wilson is a bit off the charts. Sort of like a blonde-haired surfer version of Jack Tripper, Wilson rides the line between endearing and obnoxious far too recklessly. For the movie to truly work, we have to believe Carl is willing to alienate his own beautiful new bride (this is Kate Hudson, after all) in order not to alienate Dupree. But Wilson as Dupree is often so irritating that we're not sure why Carl doesn't just chuck him to the curb the minute he shows up unannounced. Or better yet, push him in front of a bus.
Of course, 'You, Me & Dupree' is a mainstream Hollywood comedy, so there will be redemption. I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that Dupree will eventually find his path in the world, and Carl and Molly will live happily ever after. The fun of the journey is seeing how Carl will learn painful truths about friendship and marriage along the way. So in that sense, the film really is Dillon's. It's just too bad Wilson got so much face-mugging time. But there is enough chemistry between the leads, and a couple of genuinely hilarious comic sequences, that you'll probably find 'You, Me & Dupree' a perfectly fine way to waste 110 minutes. If you hate Wilson however, don't even bother giving this one a rent.
'You, Me & Dupree' is the latest HD DVD/DVD combo release from Universal, with a 1.85:1 widescreen 1080p/VC-1 transfer on one side, and a standard-def version on the other. Thankfully, the HD DVD side is HD-30 dual-layer, so no compromises have been made to the video and audio quality. 'You, Me & Dupree' has a nice, bright and colorful look, though it's a bit too processed to earn an unqualified rave.
The source is in pristine shape, and this is as sharp and shiny a new transfer as you're likely to see. Colors are very vivid yet still relatively natural -- there is a bit of oversaturation to the entire transfer but at least it is consistent across the board. Fleshtones can also look a bit airbrushed and plastic (is that really Michael Douglas in the movie, or a wax figure?), but there are no tint problems. Unfortunately, the transfer does suffer from a malady I'm noticing more and more on transfers of new releases -- blacks are crushed down too much and contrast is slightly blown out, which leaves midrange bland. Depth is thus not up to the level of the best HD DVD transfers, though detail still ranges from pretty good to mighty fine. Still, fiddling those brightness/contrast knobs during telecine might have improved things noticeably.
'You, Me & Dupree' also hits HD DVD with a Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 track encoded at Universal's standard 1.5mbps, but there is not much even a high bitrate can do for another casualty of comedy soundtrack-itis. The film's sound design is simply bland, with a few discrete moments and some prominent use of pop tunes, but that's about it.
Surrounds kick in only for obvious moments (traffic, crowd scenes, the use of music), and rarely is a convincing 360-degree soundfield created. The majority of the soundtrack is front-directed, though stereo effects are nicely done and dialogue is always clear and intelligible. Dynamics are perfectly fine as well, with solid if unexceptional low bass and clean highs. Nothing here will rock your socks off, but the job gets done.
As another Universal HD DVD/DVD combo disc, of course we get all the same extras as the standard-def release. Overall, it is an okay package of extras that is too light on its feet, though some exclusive HD content helps liven things up (see below for more on that).
It is likely overkill, but 'You, Me & Dupree' features not one but two filmmaker commentaries. The sibling directorial team of Anthony and Joe Russo hog the first track for themselves, with producer Scott Stuber and screenwriter Michael Le Sieur grabbing the second. Combining both together probably would have been a wise move, because 'You, Me & Dupree' is just not that interesting of a film or a production to warrant such a time investment. The Russo Bros. come off as rather pretentious about what is a pretty dumb concept, while Le Sieur, too, seems to think that script's shopworn cliches and conventions are something fresh. Most interesting are the casting stories (too bad they couldn't get Owen Wilson, Matt Dillon or Kate Hudson to join in), with the Russos quite sincere in their attempts to woo Dillon solely because they were such big fans of his work in 'Rumble Fish.' Disappointingly, no mention is made of the infamous near-lawsuit brought forward by the band Steely Dan, who alleged that Wilson stole the idea of the Dupree character from one of there songs. That certainly would have made for an interesting story.
Next are eight Deleted Scenes plus an Alternate Ending, with all but one scene featuring optional audio commentary with the Russo Brothers. Most of these scenes are actually alternate versions of existing scenes -- some so short they last only a few seconds. The Alternate Ending also falls a bit flat even if the idea of the joke was a good one. As for the Russo's commentary, they seem to take this stuff a wee bit too seriously, although there is that one scene that was cut because one of the brothers didn't like the pineapple that was in the shot. Now, that's an auteur.
The package wraps up with some goofy fluff. Though no actual theatrical trailer is included, we do get a Spoof Trailer, plus four minutes of fairly amusing Outtakes. Odder is "Dupree's Memoirs," which at first seems like a throwaway still gallery. Flick through the book's pages, and you find various props and mementos from the fictitious Dupree's life and times. However, navigate around each page, and you find little links to brief one- to two-minute making-of vignettes, including the cast and their characters, working with the directors and other production stories. Too bad Universal decided to make this stuff so tricky to access, as it is the only real video-based making-of material on the standard-def part of the disc.
'You, Me & Dupree' is a pretty typical Hollywood comedy. The high-concept script and characters are potentially intriguing, but Owen Wilson was too hammy and I quickly grew irritated. Still, this HD DVD has a solid transfer and soundtrack, and the addition of Universal's cutting-edge "U-Control" interface ranks this one as a true high-def special edition. If nothing else, give it a rent