Summer Entertainment Report Cards: Movies – Dinner For Schmucks

Arts & Entertainment/Film and TV by

Dinner for Schmucks seemingly has a lot going for it: a funny premise (based on the French film Le Dîner de cons) and a big-name comedic cast. It turns out that sometimes the sum can be less than its parts. For one thing, most of the movie takes place before the actual “dinner for idiots” where financial executive Tim (Paul Rudd) has to debut successfully in order to finalize a promotion. To do so, Tim is forced to find someone moronic for his superiors to secretly ridicule, and invite him to dinner. Tim’s unwitting victim is IRS agent and amateur taxidermist Barry (Steve Carell) who agrees to the event thinking that he will be there to show off his “mousterpieces”-famous artworks recreated using embalmed mice. Barry’s arrival means disaster for Tim and we spend most of the movie watching him attempt to stop his life from unravelling. When we finally hit the dinner, it isn’t as entertaining as it could have been.

Despite some headlining names, Barry’s fellow schmucks prove underwhelming. The Hangover’s Zach Galifinakis’s best laughs came from his costume, and Jemaine Clement has a few very funny moments as an outlandish artist, but these moments aren’t enough to revive the film. Most of the laughs can be attributed to Carell, whose chemistry with Rudd is disappointingly bland.

Apart from three or four quotable lines and one very endearing moment, Dinner for Schmucks offers little, proving the Hollywood comedy formula doesn’t always work. Hiring a bunch of comedic giants with blockbuster power and putting them all together doesn’t necessarily add up to hilarity. The hors d’oeuvres were tantalizing at this dinner party, but the main course failed to deliver.