Rated PG-13 for sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity and language, 114 minutes
Mildly amusing but pointless "Dinner for Schmucks"
I will say upfront that I enjoy a good, smart comedy, but you won't find that in "Dinner for Schmucks," an pointless reflex movie that's strung together by a series of contrived, easy laughs. Sure, there are a handful of genuinely funny moments, but when you get down to it, there's not much there and it loses it's way early on. A game cast, including an effusive Steve Carrell and the cranky Paul Rudd try to keep the forgettable "Dinner for Schmucks" moving past the main course.
Rudd is a rising executive Tim in a financial company that doesn't seem solid. To get where's he's going in the company, he must attend a "dinner for idiots" and bring with him a buffoon that he and some of the top executives will make fun of. Reluctant at first but sensing his ambition, he quite literally runs across Barry (Carrell), a nitwit IRS employee with marital problems, a penchant for artistically using dead mice, has an even more of a pinhead boss (Zach Galifianakis) and who is as Tim calls it, "a tornado of destruction" upon his personal and professional life. Barry may have a shot a being awarded the king of the buffoons for the evening but ends up teaching Tim more important lessons about life.
"Dinner for Schmucks" is a mildly enjoyable but slack comedy that could've been far better considering the talent. As we've seen before in films like "The 40-Year Old Virgin" and "Anchorman," Rudd and Carrell make for a genuinely game, silly team, and without them it'd be far worse. Both have done better before, especially Carrell, but "Dinner for Schmucks" (interestingly, the term 'schmuck' is never used in the film) isn't all their fault.
Jay Roach, director of "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers," can't get a good grasp on the mean-spirited, largely aimless script that's actually based on a 1998 French film "The Dinner Game," which itself an adaptation of a French play. It's really more a set-up to show the highjinks that ensue when Rudd and Carrell get together, and while some bits are funny, others fall flat - in particular - a run-in with one of Tim's former flames. Worst of all, the climactic dinner scene is a bit of a letdown, save a funny and too-brief mind-bending showdown between Carrell and "The Hangover's" Galifianakis.
Interestingly, the most fascinating part about "Dinner for Schmucks" is the detailed, colorful and artistic displays of stuffed mice that Barry puts together, with miniature re-creations of everything from The Last Supper to Van Gogh to the Wright Brothers. Galifianakis also steals a couple of hilarious scenes as Barry's off-kilter boss, who believes he has the power of mind control.
"Dinner for Schmucks" could've been a four-star meal to savor considering the talent involved, but you'll only get a handful of delectably funny nuggets.