Dinner for Schmucks

dinner with schmucks 1

D+

Dinner for Schmucks typifies the current popular American comedy — cheap laughs, preposterous circumstances, vulgarity and thin storylines. But where movies like The Hangover succeed in such a model, Schmucks falls face first into a pile of mouse carcasses… literally.

Tim (Paul Rudd) is “something like a stock broker” who desperately wants to woo his girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak) a successful artist rep and curator, into becoming his fiancée. After successfully impressing his boss with a brash business move toward a Swiss aristocrat, Tim is invited with the big boys to their monthly
social gathering, a so-called “dinner for idiots.” Each member of the senior staff brings a “remarkable” guest and the attendee with the best guest is donned with respect, bragging rights, and in Tim’s case, a promotion.

Julie however is not at all keen on the idea of Tim lowering himself simply for a promotion. And seeing as her sexy artist client, Kieran (Jemaine Clement) has an upcoming show in California for her to curate, Tim does not want to risk leaving them alone together on a bad note. IRS employee Barry (Steve Carell) is an amateur taxidermist. He dresses up mice and creates dioramas and models for them that include elaborate costumes and scenery. Barry is a bit of an idiot. So, when he jumps in front of Tim’s Porsche to save a mouse carcass with a beautiful pelt, Tim takes this chance meeting as a sign from God that he should risk attending the dinner against Julie’s wishes. Without question, antics ensue!

It’s a preposterous story set up around a semi-believable premise all for the sake of some cheap laughs and people’s desire to laugh at those they perceived as “less than.” What should be the big pay off, the actual dinner, comes deep into the third act and fails completely in delivering on all the build-up.

Paul Rudd’s performance is sadly mediocre, unfunny and wooden. The supporting cast is uninspired with a few minor exceptions: Tim’s stalker Darla (Lucy Punch) steals a few scenes with her outrageous sexy obsession and Barry’s rival and boss Therman, (Zach Galifianakis) tickles us with his persona as the master of mind control.

The only real highlight is Steve Carell who maintains his status as the current go-to comedic actor for taking a completely awkward, idiotic, and unlikable character and convincing us to fall in like with him. Despite Barry’s idiocy, as the story unfolds, we begin to realize that he is the only “real” human being in the whole film. He’s the only fully realized character with an engaging arc and certainly the only character that reflects any humanity.

If you’re only out for cheap laughs then check out Dinner for Schmucks. Otherwise, add it to your Netflix queue. Or better yet, wait for that one sleepless night when you flick the TV on at 3:00am and catch it running on Cinemax.

tags: dinner for schmucks, jay roach, paul rudd, steve carrell

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