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Dinner for Schmucks

A 2010 comedy movie directed by Jay Roach.

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3 ½ Stars: We All Play the "SCHMUCK" Sometimes....

  • Jul 31, 2010
schmuck- a stupid or contemptible person; oaf

Let’s be honest, all of us have played the role of ‘schmuck’ at one time or another. I have played a ‘schmuck’ and so has most folks (don‘t deny it) and I have often played the fool (remember the song?). Well, director Jay Roach seems to bring out the definition of a ‘schmuck’ into focus with his remake of the 1998 French film “Le Diner de Cons” in this Hollywood film “Dinner For Schmucks”. This is the third film that fits Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell together after “Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy” and the “40-year old Virgin”. I’ll get right to the point, at least I didn’t feel like a ‘schmuck’ after I saw this film.

Tim (Paul Rudd) is an analyst at a financial management firm whose potential promotion is riding on him bringing a complete loser to a dinner with them thinking that it is a meeting for simple extraordinary folks. The hosts are rich douche bags, who seem to enjoy having a laugh at the expense of other people. Tim feels morally obligated to say no, his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) says he should say no, but Tim is torn between the fabulous corner office and hanging on to his moral principles. Enter Barry (Steve Carrell), a lovable but a different man who has a weird hobby of collecting dead mice and making them up to stand as real people. Well, Tim seems to think that he may have this promotion in the bag, but Barry brings Tim’s life into chaos, as he messes with his life and threatens all that he hold dear; including Julie, that promotion, and his job…there is also a weird artist (Jemaine Clement) and a Tim’s stalker (Lucy Punch)…who is the schmuck now?

                      Octavia Spencer as Madame Nora, Patrick Fischler as Vincenzo, Paul Rudd as Tim, Steve Carell as Barry, Rick Overton as Chuck and Jeff Dunham as Lewis in "Dinner for Schmucks."

                     Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in "Dinner for Schmucks."

“Dinner For Schmucks” is a comedy whose success depends on one character that brings the comings and goings in the film--this character is Barry and Steve Carrell is definitely great as the film’s title character. A friend of mine (@Sean_Rhodes) once told me that I should judge a comedy by how many times it made me laugh; and if this is so, then “Dinner For Schmucks” is indeed a success because of the number of laughs alone. The film revolves around Barry, which for whatever reason, seems like it the more he tries to help, the more things turn upside-down for Tim and the more problems result, Barry does his best to help that ends disastrously. Barry means well, but he just can’t seem to get the right result in his actions; he also injects himself into Tim’s life with the desire to have a friend. There is bad luck, and there is just folks like Barry with no luck.

The screenplay goes about the exchanges between Tim and Barry, as the two try to develop this weird relationship based on something really unforeseeable. It is also a credit to the direction that Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell manages to build a strong chemistry, along with the film‘s group of very amusing supporting characters; from that IRS auditor, to the artist, the Swiss rich boy and to the ones in the dinner itself, the film builds on its momentum of laughs and development of its two protagonists through humorous moments. I really enjoyed the scene with Barry and his main nemesis, “the man who can control minds” and the weird scenes with the artist who has that ‘animal appeal’.

                   Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in "Dinner for Schmucks."

                  A scene from "Dinner for Schmucks"

“Dinner For Schmucks” is a funny film, but it also succeeds in bringing some moral issues that we often ignore. After all, just because we’re separated by statuses and social class, it doesn’t mean that another’s dignity and integrity is much more important. Yes, there is a message but the French film was a little more shall we say cruel and cold. I guess this is why the message in “Dinner” couldn’t come off as effective or powerful as it could’ve been. This is a Hollywood film, so the direction spends a lot of time making us like Barry and Tim, but it neglected to really focus on its commentary on ‘playing a schmuck’. Don’t take this comment as something negative, but rather a small complaint that the film held back, the French original didn’t pull punches (as I can remember but my memory is hazy) and director Jay Roach should have gone all the way in making the viewer hate Tim’s douche bag bosses. Tim’s character also spends too much time with the chaos that Barry has brought along that he couldn’t realize the anger building up inside him due to the arrogance of his superiors, the two feels really 'cartoonish'. Tim wants to belong, and I do buy his reasons why, but some reason, I wasn’t convinced that he was angry because the film was too timid and the script felt too good-hearted to achieve its supposed intended narrative impact.

                       Zach Galifianakis and Ron Livingston in "Dinner for Schmucks"

However, despite some complaints, I did find “Dinner For Schmucks” a very enjoyable movie. It also has a refreshingly clever way of delivering its beginning and ending credits, Barry’s diorama of dead mice bring forth several surprises that are very much welcome and prove quite charming. Carrell is fantastic as Barry, and I did feel his joys and pain in his depiction of life through his models of dead mice. There is a metaphor in those models that deal with Tim’s development as an individual, and maybe--just maybe, if people aren’t so busy in trying to see themselves the way they want to be seen, the way they want to be rather than doing the right thing, we can all learn something from someone we mostly see as an idiot. Even a ‘schmuck’ has something to share, and you may be a ‘schmuck’ for denying this truth.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
This is a Lunch.com Exclusive Review

3 ½ Stars: We All Play the 3 ½ Stars: We All Play the

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August 16, 2010
This was a film I wanted to see because I enjoy both Rudd and Carell as comedians. I'll be sure to put it on a rental list if I miss it in theaters. Thanks for the amazing review, and congrats on the 500th review too! :)
August 17, 2010
thanks, my friend.
August 17, 2010
You're welcome! I can't wait for you to hit #600 now. :)
December 09, 2010
July 31 was review 500; would you believe I am now only 17 reviews away from review # 600 now? time flies...
December 20, 2010
I'm so proud of you. You're output on reviews amazes the heck out of me. I wish I was that fast with my writing. :-P
August 06, 2010
From one schmuck to another, Woopy, I really enjoyed this review. It was fun and entertaining. In fact, like you, it actually made me feel a bit better about myself. Just knowing there are worse schmucks than me out there gives my ego a necessary boost. ;-) Thanks for sharing of your movie expertise. AND CONGRATS ON BEING NO. ONE OVER HERE. I am impressed ... xo
August 07, 2010
Hi, Betty! I know what you mean...this had a good moral message as well as some solid comedic moments. I am definitely a schmuck! LOL! Thanks for the congrats--but it is all because of friendly people in the site. :)
August 06, 2010
This sounds like my kind of movie. I love stupid funny! And I'm with Sean's system of how to gauge a comedy ;) I may just check this out. Thanks, Woo!
August 07, 2010
he-heh. I am with you. I am schmuck :)
August 01, 2010
Not sure where I stand here. It's a comedy, so right off the bat it's not a priority, though it has a good cast. Then there's the fact that it's a remake. I think I'll wait for this one to hit DVD...
August 01, 2010
this was quite good, mostly because of the cast. I know, comedies are mostly a low priority for me too, but I got treated to see it. I did like that social commentary...
August 01, 2010
Great review! I had planned to go see this today but a friend talked me into another movie. I love Steve Carrell (Dan in Real Life is an all-time fave) in everything. I would have been happy with just a stupid belly-busting comedy. This sounds even better.
August 01, 2010
I loved "Dan in real-life" also. I think that was one of his best movies. Yes, this had some great commentary that I really liked, which made me round up my 3.5 rating.
July 31, 2010
Great review WP, I want to see this flick and after the review I may go see it. I was planning on waiting for the DVD but it sounds good.
August 01, 2010
It is pretty good, Alex, granted some areas of the film was a little rough around the edges, but I liked the characters for the most part. I was torn between rounding up or down my 3.5 but I have to admit this film did have its real funny moments and Carrell was just convincing as a schmuck LOL!
More Dinner for Schmucks reviews
review by . September 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   Comedy is subjective. Many different people have many different tastes. Some enjoy smart comedies with more of a touch of satire, others pride themselves on broader comedies anyone can enjoy, and yet some prefer dark comedies with a lot of edge. I have to say Dinner for Schmucks fits into the mold of a general comedy that a lot of people can enjoy, and I’m personally thankful as they could have made a really made a snarky, mean-spirited movie and instead gave us tons of laughs …
review by . November 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****      They say that the best idiots can also make the best characters at times. Idiots can either be plain annoying or actually funny, in spite of the circumstances. Steve Carrel is a truly likable and brutally funny idiot in “Dinner for Schmucks”, a silly, goofy, yet undeniably funny comic romp. The actors essentially use what they’ve got to good effect, and the humor is typically effective. It is in fact one of the funnier comedies of the year, …
review by . August 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I watch a lot of movies, but mostly I watch them when they come out on Showtime or Cinemax. If I go to the actual movie theater, it is usually for something that I think will not translate quite so well to my  television. So, how did I end up at Dinner for Schmucks? I was trying to see Inception...but after 30 minutes of a broken projector, they handed out free movie passes and tickets for popcorn and drinks and sent us on out way into a movie of our choice. The next showtime for Scott Pilgrim …
Quick Tip by . January 10, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I'm bummed to say I didn't like this movie because i really enjoy the comedy of Steve Carell and Zack Galifinacis (sp?).  This movie was just way too slow in the beginning and middle.  It kind of made me feel the same way i did watching Cable Guy... One guy just wants friends so badly but is such an idiot.  It's just kind of sad to me and not very funny.  The final dinner scene had a couple laughs in it (I had to fast forward to get to it because it was so painfully …
review by . August 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I'm missing something here. I understand that the real schmucks of "Dinner for Schmucks" are played by Bruce Greenwood, Larry Wilmore, and Ron Livingston, not Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, and that means I should be able to see how certain characters and plot elements are ultimately redeemed. So then why do I still feel that this movie is ugly, spiteful, and profoundly unfunny? How is it that I cannot bring myself to feel anything for the characters I'm supposed to have feelings for? What is the one …
Quick Tip by . January 09, 2011
Good grief. I'm finding it hard to believe that such a likeable guy as Paul Rudd can topline so many forgettable features, but, sadly, DINNER fits that bill, too. How did one film manage to corral so many funny people into a horrifically unfunny script? Come the end of the picture, I was unsure of whether I was supposed to feel elated that the film was over or to feel sorry for all the players. Horribly uneven, DINNER plays out like a bad dream or, at least, major indigestion.
review by . August 14, 2010
I saw Dinner for Schmucks in a totally empty theater populated only by me and my youngest. This is a good thing since I found myself in convulsive laughter as close to actually rolling on the floor laughter as I've seen in years.    As suggested by the title a person looking to climb in a company impresses the boss who invites him to a special "dinner" where each person brings an idiot and the winner is the one who produces the biggest loser.    The writing …
review by . August 02, 2010
If only modestly skilled performers had been cast in DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, the film would have been a mess...tonally inconsistent, with a sloppy plot and a final 15 minutes of pure ludicrousness (is that a word?)    Fortunately, the film stars Steve Carrell & Paul Rudd...two of the funniest guys around who also both happen to be extremely adept at giving their outrageous or obnoxious characters real emotional depth.    Paul Rudd plays a mid-level analyst in …
Quick Tip by . August 02, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie has an excellent cast. Carell's movies are usually good and Rudd was excellent in I Love You Man. Though it looks nonsensical in the trailer, I hope to see it soon.
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  • Poster art for "Dinner for Schmucks."
Dinner for Schmucks is a 2010 screwball comedy film, inspired by the Francis Veberfilm Le Dîner de cons(or The Dinner Game), sharing only the same premise as the French film.[4]The film was directed by Jay Roachand written by David Guionand Michael Handelman. It stars Steve Carelland Paul Rudd, who had previously teamed up in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundyand The 40 Year-Old Virgin. It was released theatrically on July 30, 2010.
Tim Conrad (Paul Rudd) is a mid-level financial executive, who acquires a negotiation over special novelty lamps with wealthy Swiss businessman Martin Mueller (David Walliams). Impressed by Tim's ingenuity, his boss Lance Fender (Bruce Greenwood) invites him to a "dinner for winners" in which he must find and bring an eccentric person with a special talent; the winner earns a trophy and the executive that brought him or her gets glory. He soon learns it is more of a "dinner for idiots", and the guests will be mocked mercilessly. Meanwhile, Tim's girlfriend Julie lands a curator deal for eccentric artist Kieran Vollard (Jemaine Clement), and Tim unsuccessfully proposes to her, as he has done several times before. After learning of the cruel nature of the dinner, Julie forces him not to attend.
The next day, Tim accidentally hits IRS employee Barry Speck (Steve Carell) with his car when Barry tries to retrieve a dead mouse in the road. Witnessing Barry's bizarre behavior (he taxidermies mice...
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Director: Jay Roach
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: July 23, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 114 Min
Studio: Paramount Pictures
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