Movie Review: Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

October 1, 2010 in Entertainment, Movie Reviews by pacejmiller

I’ll admit, the first time I saw the preview for Dinner for Schmucks, I was mightily unimpressed.  To put it bluntly, it looked stupid and unfunny.  I even though the other preview, for The Other Guys, was more promising.  Well, I was wrong.  While Dinner for Schmucks was definitely stupid, it was actually pretty funny too.

Starring Paul Rudd (one of my favourites) and Steve Carrell, Dinner for Schmucks is a farce comedy loosely based on the 1998 French film, Le Diner de cons (The Dinner Game).  It’s framed around this concept of a kind of high society dinner where each guest brings a moron with them, and the guest with the biggest moron wins.

However, the dinner itself only plays a relatively small part of the film, which makes the title a little misleading.  Most of it is centred around the relationship between Tim (Rudd), the immensely likeable financial executive is desperate to climb his way to the top to impress his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak), and Barry (Carrell), the hopeless tax agent who likes to taxidermy mice for dioramas.

In terms of plot, Dinner for Schmucks is exactly how you would expect.  We’ve seen films like this before.  In fact, Paul Rudd’s I Love You, Man, is eerily similar, just with slightly different characters.  You, Me and Dupree is another.  It’s the classic straight man meets dufus and dufus turns straight man’s life upside down.

However, in terms of laughs, Dinner for Schmucks is very unpredictable, largely thanks to the amazing supporting cast of complete weirdos that makes it one of the most random films I’ve seen in a while.  Not much makes sense, and you can accept that ignore all logic and common sense, then you might find yourself laughing out loud like I did.  Some of it was unfunny, but some of it actually was.

I was particularly pleased to see the hilarious Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords playing a misunderstood artist, and it was great to see his number one fan from that show, Mel (Kristen Schaal) play Rudd’s secretary Susana.  Another standout was Lucy Punch, who plays the obsessive Darla.  Zach Galifianakis (from The Hangover) was a little more uneven as Barry’s boss, but still provided some decent laughs.

The two biggest problems I had with the film were the believability of Steve Carrell’s character (as much as I wanted to believe him he was too inconsistent at times) and the length (114 minutes), which was way too long.  They could have easily cut 20 minutes from it and made it a better, tighter film.

Nevertheless, on the whole, Dinner for Schmucks was signficantly better than what I had expected.  Barry’s taxidemied mice dioramas were done extremely well and were very cute, and the execution of the more ‘poignant’ scenes were handled with sufficient care.  Dinner for Schmucks was by no means perfect, but as far as farce comedies go, it’s one of the better ones.

3.5 stars out of 5