Tonight my friends Maja and Rola dragged me along to see You, Me and Dupree, a movie whose trailers made it look like one of the single worst movies in human history. It wasn’t as bad as that – heck, it even mustered a couple of laughs! – but it got me to thinking about the style of the two featured actors. The rest of the movie is not worth writing about, so I won’t.
Owen Wilson is a man with whom I have a love/hate relationship. I love him when he’s working with Wes Anderson, producing some of my favourite movies. Yet I can’t thank Wes Anderson for everything, because I didn’t particularly like Bottle Rocket and it gave us the prototypical Owen Wilson character: bastard nice guy. Sure, he tries to win you over with his charm, but his ideas are fundamentally flawed. This Owen Wilson character has been carried on in several forms, across Shanghai Noon and Knights (the latter of which was nothing but however many minutes of pain), even transmitting that character into Lightning McQueen of Cars fame. Even with that character in car form, Cars could not be an interesting movie.
Dupree takes on the more spiritual side of Owen Wilson, the kind that we got to see very briefly in The Royal Tenenbaums (a character sadly sidelined by a strange addiction to drugs, although not at as bad a level as his performance in Zoolander). You can say that Owen Wilson plays the same guy all the time, but that’s not true: he has featured in one of my favourite movies (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou) and darkened the screen in one of the most interminable comedies I’ve ever seen (Wedding Crashers).
Owen Wilson, I half salute you, half want to punch you in the face and fix your stupid broken nose.
Matt Dillon, on the other hand, is a great man: my distinct impression of him is that of Hollywood’s biggest misanthrope. I’m going on that based on his performances in three movies: There’s Something About Mary, Crash and You, Me and Dupree. All three of these are movies you wouldn’t really want to watch more than once, and in two and a half of them he’s not a man that you can like. Sure, one could say that in Crash you can feel sympathy for him because he has a father who lost his job to affirmative action and can’t go to the toilet unattended as a result (?), but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s an unpleasant person. In You, Me and Dupree, Dillon spends a lot of his time trying to build himself up into a total angry man state. It’s a film that strangely has too many ideas and only gels them at certain times, but Dillon’s build up into bastardry is so believable that one must wonder why Kate Hudson agreed to marry him in the first place (answer: it’s a movie).
Of course, none of this stands up to the calibre of the man himself: Matt Dillon is hilarious. I was watching a documentary about cinematographer Chris Doyle last year, and it covered a gallery exhibition of Doyle’s collage work. Dillon was in attendance at this exhibition, and he told the camera that the collages were great, and that he frequently works on collages at home.
In response to his nomination for best supporting actor in Crash this year, he was heard to remark
I don’t mind if I don’t win. No one remembers who wins, they only remember who was nominated.
I’m sure that’s how the Academy’s collective consciousness works, Dillon. Shine on.
You don’t need to see You, Me and Dupree, but you should keep an eye out for these actors: once in a while one of them makes a film that is very good (and, if he doesn’t appear in it, maybe he writes it) and the other sometimes says very funny things to promote himself.
Truly it is personalities such as these that make Hollywood a place worthy of joyous celebration.