If Dinner for Schmucks were actually a dinner, I’d say the first course and the dessert were quite satisfying but the entrée left a lot to be desired. The meal, I mean movie, starts with an amuse-bouche of a scene – someone carefully creating romantic scenes using gussied up dead mice. Turns out the person with the tiny taxidermy hobby is Barry (Steve Carell).  Barry runs into Tim (Paul Rudd) or rather Tim runs into Barry – literally – when Barry darts into the street to retrieve a dead mouse, and then the madness begins.

Tim is a financial analyst who desperately wants to get a promotion to impress his art curator girlfriend. He’s well on his way, but to seal the deal he’s got to impress the executives at their monthly dinner for idiots. The idea is for everyone to bring the biggest fool they can find so they can make fun of the poor schmucks behind their backs. At first Tim is appalled by the idea, as is his girlfriend, but he really wants this promotion, and then – he meets Barry. How perfect.

What follows though is not perfect. The scenes with Tim’s former fling/stalker were particularly unwatchable. I could have done without her character entirely. Zach Galifianakis shows up as Barry’s co-worker and nemesis, Therman, and it’s partly because of him that Tim starts to gain some insight into Barry and begins to feel bad for his idiot.  But is all very forced and not very funny.

By the time the actual dinner scene finally arrived, I was ready for it all to be over. Thankfully, there were some tasty laughs courtesy of the idiots including Barry, Therman and a host of supporting characters that include a ventriloquist and his foul-mouthed girlfriend/dummy and a woman who communicates with dead pets. Still the dessert was not enough to make up for the rest of the meal, I mean movie.

Dinner for Schmucks is a remake of a French film, which I did not see, so I can’t make any comparisons there. I just know the American version was not as funny as I had hoped. Pity, because I really like Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis and I was hoping for a good time with them at this dinner. I’d say invite them over when it comes out on DVD but don’t bother going out to see it.

One thought on “Dinner for Schmucks”
  1. As with most American remakes of French farces, sounds like they just didn’t do it justice. I saw the French version Le Diner de Cons years ago and thought it was really funny, but ultimately touching. Rent it instead of this one.

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