Dinner for Schmucks: The Movie Version of Fast Food

30 07 2010

An English language remake of Francis Veber’s Le diner de cons (The Dinner Game), Dinner for Schmucks stars comedic heavyweights Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and up-and-coming funnyman, Zach Galifianakis. Here’s the breakdown:

Tim (Rudd) is up for a big promotion at work. But first, he must impress his boss by attending a top secret dinner party. Dinner guests are expected to bring an “idiot” with them, and show them off – whoever brings the most outrageous idiot, wins. And in Tim’s case, winning means getting the promotion. Enter Barry (Carell), a bumbling fool who creates taxidermy mouse dioramas. The jokes write themselves.

The Monkey: Rudd, Carell and Galifianakis are comic masters. The subtle glances, the perfectly timed deliveries – these guys know how to get an audience to laugh.

The script features some truly clever gags and even manages to throw in some lines sure to be quoted around the water cooler. But what makes Dinner for Schmucks watchable are the performances. Rudd’s Tim is the perfect foil to Carell’s over-the-top Barry. It was refreshing to see Carell return to such ridiculous humor, the humor that made him famous to begin with (Anchorman, Bruce Almighty).

While the movie focuses on the laughs, it’s also able to work in some heart. Barry’s attempts to help Tim’s struggling love life are rooted in Barry’s own failed love – and Carell is able to dial back the guffaws and make the audience feel for his situation. Aside from the romantic themes, Dinner for Schmucks is also about friendship. Tim progresses from self-absorbed businessman, to a guy who can be friends with a taxidermist. While it may be simple, these types of good-hearted character arcs are harder to find in movies these days.

The Weasel: Dinner for Schmucks feels more like seeing these big name actors featured in an SNL skit. The set is cheap, the jokes are exaggerated and the plot is painfully predictable. And while SNL skits are fun, are audiences willing to pay current ticket prices for sketch comedy?

Without the talent of Carell, Rudd and Galifianakis, Dinner for Schmucks would be a straight-to-DVD release, I have no doubt. It makes me wonder what attracted these guys to the project. Just a chance to hang out, have some laughs? If so, they succeeded in having fun, but no amounts of fun can save a bland plot. The movie relies on “I’m saying something [mean or nice] about the person standing right behind me but I don’t know they’re there” trick way too many times and we’ve seen this story countless times before.

There’s nothing new here except some wonderfully creative mouse taxidermy dioramas and some solid acting performances. If that’s enough incentive to get your butt in a theatre seat, then Dinner for Schmucks is for you. Otherwise, wait for the DVD.

2.5 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Was Dinner for Schmucks as funny as you’d hoped? How does it compare to the source material? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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8 responses

30 07 2010
Dan Wallace

The preview looked kind of genius; bummed the execution might not be as good as the setup. Might still see it this weekend.

30 07 2010
Dustin

If you enjoy these actors, definitely go see it. Regardless of the plot, they’re just so fun to watch!

Let me know what you think after you see it!

30 07 2010
scarletsp1der

wow. very interesting to me that you and I both gave it a 50% approval. It wasn’t as funny as I had hoped. I always laughed in the previews when Barry was drinking soy milk watching the baboon eat paper. In the movie, it was a ho-hum part for me. Oh well. Maybe I’ll just rewatch the trailer again for some laughs! Nice review Dustin!!

2 08 2010
Dustin

Thanks! And yeah, definitely a forgettable comedy – but I have high hopes for the upcoming “The Other Guys” – I guess we’ll see!

2 08 2010
Sasha F.

there is an artist or company that has been doing these dioramas…
http://www.lovedtodeath.net/product.php?category=Art&id=324

3 08 2010
Dustin

I had no idea this actually existed! Lol – thanks for the link! 🙂

17 12 2012
Peter Saumur (@Stitched)

I liked it better when it was the French movie “Le diner de con” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119038/)

28 01 2013
Dustin

I’ll have to check that out! 🙂

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