Dinner for Schmucks
Directed by: Jay Roach Cast: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Jemaine Clement, Zach Galifianakis Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: July 30, 2010
PLOT: In order to win over the hearts and minds at this company, Tim (Rudd) must find a “special guest” (Carell) for a dinner hosted by his boss that gives the spotlight to the world’s biggest idiots.
WHO’S IT FOR? Adults. There is tons of sex talk here. Also, it's for those who like to find dead mice, and dress them up, your movie dreams have finally been answered. While Rudd has a good fan base as well, this really is Carell's show. You'll get to laugh at, not with, and not be worried about it being too mean. There's an odd sweetness to it.
EXPECTATIONS: The track record says you put Carell with Rudd and get laughs. 40 Year-Old Virgin and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Plus Jay Roach has had some hits with Meet the Parents and Austin Powers. It's normally his sequels that aren't fresh. Still, I was hoping for an R-rating mainly because if you are really going to be mean, you need some f-bombs at your side.
Paul Rudd as Tim: Tim is mild. I guess that's the point. It's just a shame they didn't give Rudd any really heavy lifting with this role. His job mainly consists of acting slighting put off (instead of extremely angry) and rolling his eyes (instead of throwing a punch at Barry). It works in the sense that it gives Carell room to roam. There is one key moment for Tim, which is when he gives a speech to his static girlfriend played by Stephanie Szostak. He tells her, "There's a me you don't know, and he's the one who has to be mean sometimes." It's something every man has wanted to say and probably shouldn't. I have to give Nick Allen credit for pointing this out to me first, Rudd plays an almost identical character from his movie I Love You, Man, but without as many jokes. Score: 5
Steve Carell as Barry: There are moments when Carell goes too far with his character Michael Scott in "The Office." It's mainly because that character verges on being based in reality. We don't have to worry about that with Barry. He messes up sayings, he doesn't understand sarcasm, and most importantly he dresses up dead mice in the most adorable way possible. Seriously, the mice are worth the price of admission. Plus, if I said to you that Carell makes lots of crazy faces, you'd groin right? Don't worry. It's amazing. You get lost in the joy of Barry. He's an idiot who doesn't mind being the butt of the joke (for the most part). Score: 9
Jemaine Clement as Kieran: Kieran is a character you would have been played by Will Ferrell ten years ago. You know what? Clement does a pretty good job in his place. It's always amusing, and when you put Clement's crazy new-age artist with IRS agent Barry ... you'll be on pins and needles to see if they can understand each other. Score: 7
Zach Galifianakis as Therman: For those who only know Galifianakis from The Hangover ... this is the comedic man that the rest of us know. You just don't know if you're witnessing comedic genius or what. That's the enigma of Galifianakis. At first it looked like we'd only get him for a couple of minutes in this movie, but then he comes back for the dinner. Brain vs. mind. It's good stuff. Not as good as his ability to make his face extremely red, but don't worry, we get that too. Score: 8
TALKING: Barry gets a surprising amount of laughs from misquoting famous sayings or songs. Yes, the movie does get a little long in the tooth from Tim demanding that Barry leave him alone. And yes, there are token romantic speeches that offer nothing new. But just when you think the movie has run out of jokes, they make great comebacks and you'll have fun with it until the end. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Dead mice. Dead mice dressed up a million different ways. I can't get enough. Especially when Barry is talking about them. Plus, I'm not sure, but I think Carell had some fake teeth, right? Score: 7
SOUNDS: The Beatles "A Fool on the Hill" bookends this movie. Sondre Lerche makes his presence known as well. I'm curious if that had anything to do with him doing the complete soundtrack for another Carell film, Dan in Real Life. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: Barry attempts to win the dinner, even though he doesn't think he has a chance. It comes down to a wonderful history lesson full of Barry-isms ... and lots of dead mice.
ENDING: Thankfully Barry and Kieran are involved in what would otherwise be a standard schmaltzy romantic comedy ending.
QUESTIONS: Why not be even meaner? More importantly, if you're going to get comedians to play these side characters at the dinner ... where are their jokes? And lastly, isn't Bruce Greenwood great? Seriously.
REWATCHABILITY: I would easily see this again in the theater if my friends wanted to go. In fact, it's the perfect movie to see at one of the many second-run theaters in Portland.
With a name like Schmucks it has to be mean. At least that's what I thought. Those looking for something nasty are going to have to look elsewhere. Somehow, this Dinner for Schmucks is sweet. I put the praise/blame squarely on Steve Carell's face. Every time I think back to scenes from this movie, I just see Barry smiling at me. It's a sweet charm that I didn't expect from this movie and it totally works. Rudd is serviceable, but Carell truly shines.
It's like Carell has announced it is OK to make fun of him. He understands that laughter is good for you, so he'll act like the biggest moron possible for our sake.
Now, do I think this movie is perfect? Absolutely not. But you'll laugh. That's the bottom line.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10