Movie Review: Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

Posted: November 17, 2012 in Comedy

Tim Conrad (Paul Rudd) is a corporate climber, who sees an opportunity to climb the corporate ladder when one of the executives above him gets fired.  Tim immediately gets on his boss’ good side by coming up with a plan to handle the finances of a multimillionaire named Muller (David Walliams) Tim’s boss Mr. Fender (Bruce Greenwood) returns the favor by saying that he hosts a dinner for idiots, and he has to bring a schmuck along if he wants this promotion.  Tim’s girlfriend, a museum curator named Julie, (Stephanie Szostak) thinks it’s cruel to make fun of simple-minded people, Julie’s career is looking up, as she is going to curate a show for an up and coming artist named Kiran. (Jermaine Clement) Just as Tim is about to call the dinner off, he literally runs into Barry (Steve Carell)  a simpleton, who is an amateur taxidermist (he stuffs dead mice) and works for the IRS.  Barry proceeds to break up Tim’s relationship with Julie, get him involved with a former one-night stand stalker named Darla (Lucy Punch) and wreck Tim’s Porche, and this is all before the dinner takes place, but Tim has found his useful idiot.  Does Tim go through with the dinner?  Does he get his girlfriend back?  Does he get his promotion?  What happens to Barry?

This is only a pretty good movie which had potential to be a very good movie.  It starts as a very good satire of the cutthroat corporate world, and has some satirical barbs for the pretentious art world, through the Kiran and Julie characters, but along comes the Barry character and throws a monkey wrench into the whole works.  Every time I saw Steve Carrell’s character, I just cringed. It seemed to me that the Paul Rudd character is just patronizing the Carrell character, and I never got the sense that Rudd’s character ever liked Carrell’s character.  It’s a shame, because Rudd’s character is a likeable funny guy, and everything that Carrell does is just so annoying.  Carrell has a bowl-haircut and buck teeth, is that funny?  Carell should ease up on the dumb guy roles for a while, Michael Scott, Maxwell Smart and this guy Barry. Carrell might get typecast, and he’s better than that.  This movie at its worst feels like a sit-com, in that these situations could never happen.  There are more unnecessary characters and sub-plots like Zack Galifianakis as Barry’s IRS boss, who thinks he has the power of mind control, but doesn’t.  Tim’s psycho one night stand stalker is also a stock Hollywood character, and not funny.  I’m not a big fan of plot twists, but if ever a movie needed a plot twist, this one needed one.

Dinner for Schmucks.  A warmed over tv dinner, in need of a re-write.




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