Dinner for Schmucks
dir Jay Roach
scr David Guion, Michael Handelman
prd Laurie MacDonald, Walter F Parkes, Jay Roach
with Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Bruce Greenwood, Stephanie Szostak, Jemaine Clement, Zach Galifianakis, Lucy Punch, David Walliams, Ron Livingston, Christopher O'Dowd, Larry Wilmore, Kristen Schaal
release US 30.Jul.10, UK 20.Aug.10
10/US Paramount 1h54
Dinner for Schmucks
Meet the losers: Carell and Rudd

greenwood clement galifianakis
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Dinner for Schmucks This silly American remake of a silly French comedy provides its cast with some lively and often hilarious characters. But there's not much else going on here. Thankfully, the moralising sentimentality is kept to a minimum.

Tim (Rudd) is hoping to get a promotion at work, but his boss (Greenwood) wants him to prove himself by joining their Dinner for Winners, at which each executive must turn up with the biggest idiot they can find. Tim's girlfriend (Szostak) is appalled by the idea, and even more furious when she meets Tim's new "friend" Barry (Carell), an overeager goofball who creates elaborate tableaux with dead mice. It's pretty clear that Barry will win the competition, but he'll probably destroy Tim's life in the process.

The plot is simplistic and fairly predictable, with contrived set pieces that are over-constructed to create the maximum possible chaos for Tim. This gets annoying quite quickly and would be unwatchable if it weren't for Rudd and Carell, who both add a level of humanity to their cartoonish characters. As a result, Tim is a nice guy with a thoughtless streak, while Barry is the insufferable moron with a heart of gold. As a result, their interaction is surprisingly endearing.

It also helps that they're surrounded by a seemingly endless stream of nutcases. Amusing side characters include Clement's pompous artist, Galifianakis' mind-controlling taxman, Punch's stalker ex-girlfriend and Walliams' obtuse Swiss millionaire. And there are more where these came from, especially when the fateful dinner kicks off the unruly final act. But the funniest things in the film are Barry's "mouse-terpieces".

Even when the serious message starts gurgling around (about acceptance and respect and whatever), the film remains resolutely superficial, more interested in zany farce than anything close to the bone. It's so corny that we never believe it for a second. As each scene descends into sketch-comedy slapstick and sitcom-style crossed wires, it's cute and funny enough to keep us engaged. But if the filmmakers weren't going to make it more than that, it's unclear why they felt the need to revisit Francis Veber's equally banal 1998 original.

cert 15 themes, language, innuendo, some violence 9.Aug.10

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Dinner for Schmucks Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2010 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall