The 2006 film You, Me, and Dupree (2006) is an odd one. It stars Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, and Matt Dillon, and it’s directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, who also executive-produced the TV comedy, Community. You’d think those are ingredients for a potentially amusing film. But overall, those ingredients never really come together, and the half-baked film ends up feeling much longer than its 108 minutes.
It also DOES and DOES NOT include a reel librarian. Confusing? Stick with me.
The main plot is pretty simple: Molly (Kate Hudson) and Carl (Matt Dillon) are newlyweds, and Carl’s best man, Dupree (Owen Wilson), crashes on their couch after he loses his job (due to attending their wedding). To put it mildly, Dupree overstays his welcome.
Almost 40 minutes into the film, Molly and Carl are arguing — again — about Dupree staying at their house. Molly is attempting to problem-solve the situation. HINT, it involves a reel librarian:
Molly: What if he had a girlfriend?
Carl: Good idea. But how’s a guy with no job, no car, living on somebody’s couch going to find any kind of girlfriend?
Molly: Our new librarian? She seems really nice.
Carl: You want to fix Dupree up with a ‘really nice librarian’? listen, I’ve known the guy for 25 years. I think he’s more into the young, foreign, non-librarian type.
Molly: It wouldn’t hurt to ask.
Carl: I wouldn’t get my hopes up.
Cut to next scene, after Molly shows Dupree the librarian’s picture in the faculty guide:
Dupree: I’ll do it.
That must be some school picture! We also learn the name of this “really nice librarian,” Mandy. And that she has a car. She is a catch! As is Dupree, obviously. 😉
Molly and Carl come home after a date night to a tie on the front door handle and “Funky Cold Medina” playing inside. Their reactions mirror their earlier conversation about hooking Dupree up with the school librarian: Carl is worried as Molly gets excited.
Carl: Looks like Dupree brought his date home.
Molly: What is a tie doing on our door?
Carl: Molly, I think we ought to drive around the block a couple of times.
Molly: Wait a minute. No way. Mandy’s a Mormon. She’s not the kind of girl to get busy on the first date.
Carl: You fixed Dupree up with a Mormon librarian?
And Carl’s skepticism seems to be justified. I will just let the next three screenshots sum up Molly’s — and our — introduction to Mandy, the Mormon librarian:
Dupree then runs out of the house with a pillow covering his private parts and thanks Molly “for the best night of my life” while Mandy, left alone in the house with all those open candle flames, sets the house on fire. Yes, that’s right.
The Mormon librarian sets the house on fire.
That sure is some flammable symbolism, y’all.
The next shot has Dupree wrapped in a blanket and sitting on the sidewalk, talking to Mandy who’s in her car. All we see of her this time is the back of her curly hair. But we do get a nice view of her bumper sticker, which reads:
DO THE DEWEY!
Molly and Carl, understandably, have had enough, and they blame Dupree. (Why not blame the librarian?) But Dupree is cool with that, as he plans on moving in with Mandy. Timeline reminder: He met her yesterday.
Molly: You sure you got a place to go?
Dupree: Yeah, I got a place to go. I’m going to Mandy’s.
Carl: The librarian.
Molly: Don’t you think that’s kind of moving a little quickly, Dupree?
Dupree: Maybe it is, but so what? Something special’s happening there. I’m not gonna fight it.
End result? Molly and Carl come home that night to find Dupree sitting in the rain, playing the song “Mandy” on his headphones. No points for correctly guessing what happened with his plan to move in with the librarian.
And yet we are NOT DONE with Mandy the Mormon librarian. Almost an hour into the film, Dupree shows up to do a Career Day presentation at Molly’s school, thinking this will win Mandy back. Molly tries to let him down easy, making an excuse that Mandy “had a book that was lost.”
Every scene that mentions the reel librarian, we learn more about her. Thus far, we have learned:
- she’s new at the school
- she has a name, Mandy
- she has a car
- she’s Mormon
- she’s ok with getting busy on the first date
- she likes butter
- she shaves her legs
- she’s not to be trusted around open flames
- she has curly, reddish hair
- she loves the Dewey Decimal system
- she’s not ok with Dupree crashing on her couch one day after meeting (and sleeping) with him
And here are the final things we learn about Mandy:
Molly: There’s something you need to know about Mandy. Well, it turns out she’s a total slut, sleeping with half the male faculty.
Dupree: What? No.
Molly: I’m sorry.
Dupree: My Mandy?
Molly: Yeah. I’m sorry, I would never have set you up with her if I would have known. Ever.
Dupree: There really aren’t any more Audrey Hepburns out there, are there? What a sucker.
This conversation continues when Molly comes home after school to find Dupree watching the end of Roman Holiday, the classic movie starring Audrey Hepburn.
Molly: You really were serious about Audrey Hepburn.
Dupree: She had it all. Style, grace, ethereal beauty. Just like I thought Mandy did.
Molly: I don’t know. I have a hard time imagining Audrey Hepburn getting buttered up to “Funky Cold Medina.”
Dupree: Really? I don’t.
All that carnage Mandy causes — setting the house on fire and breaking Dupree’s heart — and we still don’t ever get to properly see her. At first, that felt like yet another odd thing in an overall odd movie. Even though Mandy plays an arguably substantial role in the latter half of the film — she is part of the motivation for Dupree getting his act together, as he wants to win Mandy back (and he keeps trying, by the way, calling her later) — she is never technically, fully seen onscreen. We learn so much about this reel librarian, yet we never fully see her. We hear her name dozens of times, yet she doesn’t even earn a screen credit!
So what purpose does this reel librarian serve in this film? Since she is referenced so much — and we do see parts of her — I am going to classify this film in the Class III category, which includes films with reel librarians as supporting or memorable minor characters.
For the role that “Mandy the Mormon librarian” fills, it has to be the Naughty Librarian:
- She is definitely a flirtatious or sexually charged librarian, a seemingly conservative young woman who then “lets her hair down” outside the library.
- Adding the detail that she’s Mormon sets up the “conservative” aspect that immediately leads to the payoff that she is not-so-conservative after all.
- Naughty Librarians also tend to have sexual undertones in their conversation. Since we never actually hear Mandy talk, the sexual undertones in this case come from her “Do the Dewey” bumper sticker!
- Naughty Librarians also have a tendency to become violent or exhibit otherwise criminal behavior when their love/sex desires are repressed (see Personals, Maxie, Tomcats, etc.)… and Mandy happens to set a house on fire when their lovemaking session is interrupted. Just sayin’.
In this light, knowing that she fulfills the Naughty Librarian character type, it makes more sense about why we never actually see her face onscreen. That would ruin the fantasy, right? Naughty Librarians are fantasies — sometimes even violent fantasies — and without actually seeing her onscreen (or rather, just parts of her, like her bare leg and curly hair), viewers are free to conjure whatever image they have that fulfills their own personal “really nice librarian” fantasy.
So while this reel librarian portrayal is disappointing, to say the least — and equal-opportunity offensive to librarians, school teachers, Mormons, and Audrey Hepburn — it does serve up some interesting twists to the Naughty Librarian character type. Not enough for me to recommend the film — but that’s why I watch and analyze these reel librarian movies films, so you don’t necessarily have to. You’re welcome.
Final lessons from You, Me, and Dupree? Stay safe, y’all. 😉
- You, Me and Dupree. Dir. Anthony Russo, Joe Russo. Perf. Kate Hudson, Matt Dillon, Owen Wilson. Universal, 2006.