Time: 109 mins.
Genre: Black Comedy/Crime
SYNOPSIS: When he is fired for taking payola, the host for a popular children's television show plots revenge against his replacement, a rhino named Smoochy.
BOTTOM LINE: What begins as a darkly funny peek into the egotistical, money and ratings hungry world of children's television, quickly takes a nosedive by becoming too bleak and unbelievable. Williams is perfectly cast as Rainbow Randolph. His childlike exuberance is a clever facade for the money-grubbing sell-out hiding beneath his sugar-coated smile. His fall from grace leaves him friendless, homeless and in deep trouble with the law. Instead of helping their tainted superstar, the network rushes to find the next big character to fill Randolph's shoes. It isn't easy to find someone without a criminal past who has a good act, but when they uncover Sheldon Mopes (Norton), it seems their dreams of a perfect patsy have come true. However, as much as they like Smoochy the Rhino, Sheldon refuses to play ball, unwilling to be a whore for the toy and candy manufacturers pushing Smoochy products with the collusion of the network.
Nora Wells (Keener), the network exec in charge of the show, initially believes Sheldon's convictions are a bunch of hot air, mere ploys to get more cash, but when, thanks to Randolph, he becomes the next tarnished kid's host she begins to understand there's more to this lovable rhino than meets the eye. Sheldon refuses to go down without a fight and re-emerges stronger than ever, much to Randolph's near psycotic dismay. Murder and mayhem follow as the network, their sponsors and past hosts battle for supremacy over the mind's and pocketbooks of America's children. Norton delivers another knockout performance as Smoochy, the lovable, yet uncompromising Rhino. It's a shame the rest of the film doesn't live up to his brilliance. Williams uncontrolled wackiness doesn't help. While occasionally a very clever send-up of the dirty politics of network tv, SMOOCHY wallows in its' own bitterness and deviance too long to be wholly enjoyable.