Synopsis: A business man must bring the biggest “schmuck” to dinner to gain a promotion.
Release Date: July 30, 2010 MPAA Rating: PG-13
An easy task of bringing a schmuck to dinner ends up turning Tim’s (Paul Rudd) world upside down. For the viewer, it also gets a bit bumpy along the way. All Tim wants is a promotion to the 7th floor. As his assistant states, their floor smells like cabbage and she needs to get away from all the loser’s. His quest for respect in the company and the oh so bright new office can be attained if he manages to pull off one thing: find the perfect schmuck to impress his boss at the annual idiot dinner. The moral dilemma of agreeing to openly exploit those who are different runs deep in Tim but when he meets Barry (Steve Carrell) he sees just how easy it can be and the harm of it all is easily overlooked. Befriending Barry, the taxidermist who recreates famous paintings, moments in history, and the like with dead mice, is not just a one night event for Tim as he had planned. Barry shows up a day early and the next twenty-four hours of Tim’s life involves one catastrophe after another. The majority of the movie is spent during the hours leading up to the dinner. We follow Tim as he tries to mend what Barry consistently breaks in his life. It is all well and good as the comedic moments remain steady but the impending dinner feels far away consistently when it is what you inevitably crave to see as time goes by. This is not to say the film bores you with too much material beforehand but it does lack a strong focus throughout. You are never quite sure what the main plot is exactly as you are bombarded with quite a few different storylines all involving the same characters and none of them are very interesting or different from what has been done or seen before. All of the lines of action do not get resolved until the end so the amount of questions that build upon each other throughout become overwhelming. What seems to be a simple comedy becomes something that is simple, but convoluted at the same time.
It is quite obvious when Steve Carrell, as Barry, finally appears on screen that he will provide the majority of comedy for the film. The scenes building up to this point, as we are introduced to Tim (Paul Rudd), his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak), and co-workers (including an underwhelming performance by Ron Livingston as Caldwell show little signs of any humor coming from them in any form. When we finally meet Barry all hope for a decent laugh becomes readily apparent. What makes Barry funny and entertaining is that he does not ever appear to be trying to make you laugh. It all comes naturally from his character. Assumed to be an idiot, or “schmuck”, Barry is special in his own unique way, but he is not stupid. He just quite often does not make the best decisions in terms of his life, and the lives of those around him. He always means well by his actions and is truly a good person, so when he makes the multitude of mistakes and gets Tim into a variety of predicaments you do laugh but not so much at him, just the social skills, or good judgement he lacks. As well as his unique taxidermy habit. Barry becomes the lovable bumbling character who is honest to a fault and completely endearing even to the most critical of subjects. Even if he is seen as the “tornado of destruction” in Tim’s life we love him all the same.
Adding to the the perfection that is Barry are supporting character’s that generate a great amount of laughter for a variety of different reasons. These are not merely the others schmucks at dinner, but people we encounter along the way and during the somewhat short dinner scene. The most memorable is a solid tie between Kieran (Jermaine Clement) and Darla (Lucy Punch). Sorry to say, as humorous as Zach Galifianakis’ character Therman appears to be, he is actually quite stale to watch and far too arrogant a bully to be enjoyable. Kieran, the self-centered, ego centric artist, is one of those characters so unbelievably wrong to imagine could exist in the world you instantly start laughing the minute he opens his mouth. Anyone who wears a goat leg costume to become a Satyr for the sake of art is bound to call for some serious laughter; Clement pulls it off brilliantly. As for Darla, Tim’s crazy stalker one night stand of years before, she is hilarious. If her tongue action, black pleather outfits, or attempts at lady-like behavior do not make you laugh you need to switch your prescription medication because you are obviously numb. The other schmucks have their moments but given the short amount of time each character has they have a fleeting effect. Although the woman who communicates with dead animals, by mimicking the animal itself, is something to behold when the lobster dinner decides it has something to say.
All in all, Dinner For Schmucks makes for some quality good laughs from all different angles.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jay RoachJay Roach
- Producer(s): David GuionMichael Handelman
- Screenwriter(s): Steve Carell (Barry)Paul Rudd (Tim)Zach Galifianakis (Therman)
- Story: Jermaine Clement (Kieran)
- Cast: Alan BaumgartenJon PollJim DenaultMichael Corenblith
- Cinematographer: Theodore Shapiro
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA