Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

Steve Carell grinning maniacally stares from over Paul Rudd's shoulderThe real schmucks were behind making this film

An ambitious executive, Tim (Paul Rudd), has just landed his company an extremely wealthy Swiss client when his boss, Lance (Bruce Greenwood), invites him to an exclusive, yet unusually mean-spirited dinner party where each of the high-powered executives brings a guest to make fun of. Recognizing that his long-awaited promotion is finally within reach, Tim begins to have second thoughts about participating in the elaborate charade when his longtime girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), the successful curator at a local art gallery, voices intense disdain for the idea. The following day, Tim is looking for a way out of the dinner when fate throws the perfect guest right in front of his luxury car. Barry (Steve Carell) is a sweet but dim-witted IRS agent with an unusual hobby: he creates elaborate dioramas featuring stuffed mice

Before watching this film, I had two expectations about this film: the laughs wouldn't be in the film as frequently as they should be, and that Steve Carell would give a great performance. This film managed to live up to it's expectations, but that's not necessarily a good thing.

Steve Carell manages to give a great performance as Barry, bringing a likability to a role that, if played by any other actor, would be merely annoying. I did like how the purpose of his hobby, constructing dioramas using dead mice, actually managed to have a hidden emotional factor, instead of merely being a hobby that's just there to be gross and creepy.

Paul Rudd is merely okay in his role as Tim, never really managing the chance to stand out amongst the cast, which is a shame. Kieran, played by Flight of the Conchords' own Jermaine Clement, is a character who's more interesting in theory than what we actually get. Kristen Schaal only appeared for a few scenes, but managed to give off some of the films best lines. Irish comedian Chris O'Dowd manages to steal the scenes he appears in, as a blind swordsman who is brought to the dinner.

The film has some pacing issues, as most of the film's running time is spent on these useless subplots that seem to serve no purpose rather than to waste time, with the prime examples being the Darla and Kieran storylines. The actual set-up of the dinner goes by rather quickly, especially when compared with the time that was spent on the subplots.

Paul Rudd found her acting to be a little wooden

For a comedy film, the laughs managed to be often absent, instead giving way to a number of moments which were awkward and quite cringeworthy. I also felt that the film got a little too silly in the last act, and the wrap up to Tim & Julie's romantic story felt a bit too forced for my liking.

Despite the amount of good talent that star in the film, Dinner For Schmucks is a moderately funny affair overall, spending too much of it's focus upon useless subplots and not generating as many laughs as it should do. However, Steve Carell does give off a terrifically likable performance, the film is quite enjoyable and when the jokes hit, they really make you laugh, but after working together on Anchorman and The 40 Year-Old Virgin, you can't help but feel like you should've gotten better from another team-up from Rudd and Carell.


Matt Stewart said…
I hear this was an extremely entertaining film? Oh well. Great review!
Tom_Film_Master said…
I expected this one to be pretty lifeless. I think I will skip this dinner. Great review!