Dinner for Schmucks
Starring Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Zach Galifianakis
Directed by Jay Roach (Austin Powers)
Rated PG-13 for sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity and language
Appropriate for ages 15+
Tim (Rudd) is trying to get ahead at work and his lucky break comes when he is invited to a secret annual dinner with the executive team where each member must bring the biggest idiot thy can find. There they each compete to see who can discover the most impressive buffoon. Tim, being a nice person, is not interested but knows he must compete in order to move ahead and thus finds Barry (Carell), an IRS agent that creates art out of dead mice. When Barry is so excited about the dinner that he shows up to Tim’s apartment on the wrong night, he finds a way to ruin Tim’s life in one mishap after another.
Based on the French film “Le Diner de Cons,” Schmucks takes some similar approaches to its source, but finds ways to not only bring more humanity to the part of the hero, Tim, but also to make the part of Barry ten times more uncomfortable to watch. Of course this is done through the brilliance of the two leading men, Rudd and Carell. In the French film, the hero is a complete jerk, but here it is so hard to hate Rudd, that even though you know he is doing something completely awful and creepy, you can’t help but think that he will somehow redeem himself. He’s just too nice. That plays in his favor when you can see his inner demons fighting as he struggles with the concept of the dinner. And then there is Carell who turns in one of my favorite performances of the year so far in 2010. Sure he is over-the-top, but there are moments of gravity that remind you that he really is a smart, albeit aloof, character with a weird but great artistic ability. The parts were perfectly cast and perfectly performed. For a film like this it is was also important to have a great supporting cast, and they really went all out, gathering some of the best names in comedy to be both the idiots and the idiots bringing the idiots.
While there have been many films that have tried (Get Him to the Greek came close), very few have comedies have actually worked this year, and none have tickled the funny bone like Schmucks. While its no Hangover, there is a good combination of discomfort and silliness here that got me laughing hard throughout. I love the feeling I get after laughing like that for so long and I’m sure my body liked it too. Some might not appreciate the slapstick, but to me this felt like a modern-day Monty Pythonesque picture with all of the absurdity and adult humor you could hope to discover from these great minds. It’s an immensely entertaining low-brow film whose immaturity is completely excusable and even enjoyable. A-