Death to Smoochy [2002]

Guaranteed to please anyone who thinks Barney is Satan's spawn, Death to Smoochy mines comedy gold by skewering children's television. Adam Resnick's easy-target satire blossoms under the demented influence of director-costar Danny DeVito, who honors his legacy of venom-laced humor with the raucous rivalry of scandalized former kid-show host Rainbow Randolph (Robin Williams) and his squeaky-clean replacement, Sheldon Mopes, a.k.a. Smoochy the Rhino (Edward Norton). Randolph is insanely obsessed with getting his job back, but Smoochy's a smash, and their war for kid-vid supremacy places a jaded "KidNet" producer (Catherine Keener) in the middle of a Rainbow/Rhino smackdown. A few lulls are easily forgiven since much of Death to Smoochy is laugh-out-loud hilarious, with DeVito, Robert Prosky, Jon Stewart, and Harvey Fierstein in choice supporting roles. It's no wonder DeVito's taboo-busting drew fire from family groups and actual kid-show producers; only the humorless would fail to laugh at Smoochy's uncompromised irreverence. --Jeff Shannon

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