REVIEW: Dinner for Schmucks

30 07 2010

Movies have always had a knack for turning pain into comedy; it’s one of the reasons why we go.  We can’t laugh at suffering in the real world, but we can go and sit in front of a screen and be thoroughly entertained by the trials of people we don’t even know.

However, in “Dinner for Schmucks,” pain is just pain.  As if the pain of the events themselves weren’t enough, we are forced to endure a seemingly interminable series of jokes falling flat on their face.  It’s OK to watch pain when it’s a fictional character enduring it – not the movie itself.

The plot is simple, adhering only to the old adage of Murphy’s Law: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”  As a rising executive, Paul Rudd’s Tim is invited to a cruel tradition where members of the corporate crew each bring a bozo to dinner in order to lampoon them for their own entertainment.  He hits the jackpot with Barry (a red-headed Steve Carell), an IRS agent who dabbles in taxidermy in his spare time, creating some very intricate mice dioramas.  While he has a heart of gold, he has a knack for destroying everything in his sights.

There’s also a cast of supporting characters, including Tim’s girlfriend with an inconsistent French accent (gotcha!), as well as his psychotic New Year’s hook-up turned stalker, a foul-mouthed secretary, and a sex-crazed artist.  None of them manage to excite us, and it’s not just because we don’t recognize them.  There have been many a no-name comedy sensation, look no further than last summer’s “The Hangover” as proof.  Yet there’s just no comedic spark or energy from anyone, and characters that could make a mediocre comedy bearable just become part of the pratfall.

And then there are the schmucks, who only come out in the twilight moments of the movie.  It’s an interesting cast of characters, headlined by Zach Galifianakis, who thinks that he has the power to control minds.  The schtick is funny for a little while, but even last summer’s golden child of comedy can’t keep the ridiculous character from becoming a one-note role.  Your mouth may be wide open during the dinner, not necessarily laughing but just awe-struck by how absurd the buffoons at the table are.

At “Dinner for Schmucks,” the real schmuck is you, the unsuspecting moviegoer who is lured in by the wattage of comedic stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd.  With your money, you’ve financed a dinner for sadists, the executives who will make a profit off of your pain.  Perhaps a more fitting title is “Movie for Morons” because that’s exactly what you’ll be if you see this movie.  D+ /


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3 responses

30 07 2010
Ross McG

oooo… man, i thought this looked like fun
maybe i am wrong
it has happened before..
once.

31 07 2010
Fitz

Geez, I was looking forward to this with Rudd, Carell, Galifinakis and Clement.

8 08 2010
Red

I could easily see this coming from Carell or Galifinakis, but Rudd? Very disappointing.

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