Tim with Barry and the rest of the schmucks.
I have recently been looking to foreign films for inspiration and apparently so has Hollywood. From Death at a Funeral to Let the Right One In, many foreign films are being remade by Hollywood. I have never seen the French comedy Le Diner de Cons, that this movie is based on, so I have no idea how similar they are.
Tim is trying to work his way up the executive ladder. After impressing his boss with a business idea, he gets invited to his monthly dinner party. Each person must bring with them an idiot. Tim runs into Barry with his car while Barry is trying to pick up a dead mouse. Barry is completely gullible and annoyingly honest. Barry believes a co-worker can mentally control him.
Although the previews lead you to believe otherwise, the dinner party does not happen until the last quarter of the film. First Barry has to invite Tim's overly stimulated stalker, Darla, over to Tim's apartment. They once dated and she is a psycho still in love with him. She and Barry get into a fight that is truly hysterical. Barry also accidentally breaks Tim up with his girlfriend Julie.
My favorite scene comes next when Tim has a business lunch with some important potential clients. They expected Julie to be there. While Tim is making up an excuse Darla shows up, at Barry's behest, and pretends to be Julie.
Finally at the dinner, everyone's moron gets a chance to show off, or at least look stupid. The funniest and saddest moment is when Barry announces that he lost his wife's clitoris. You have to see it. At the dinner both Barry and Tim grow and decide to be the men they want to be. Barry even has a show down with his co-worker.
As Scott once wrote, "American comedies tend more towards sentimentality." That is very much the case here. Dinner for Schmucks could have easily been a dark comedy, and I wonder if the original was? This version is kept light by the mere likability of Barry. He is a moron, but a very nice moron. Even when he does completely stupid things you find yourself rooting for him.
Carell is the key to Dinner for Schmucks success. Although Barry is a complete jack-ass, you see a real human in him. He is pathetic, yet endearing. Rudd is the straight man but he gets a few laughs. His biggest being when he tries to walk with a sore back. Dinner for Schmucks is the best comedy of the summer!
Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in Dinner For Schmucks
I couldn't agree more about Carell, Eric. He has an innate likability that has served his career well and it is put to good use here. Even when his character is at its most annoying you still can't help but like him. Rudd on the other hand has made a career out of playing the straight man. He does a terrific slow burn and delivers deadpan sarcasm with the best of them. This is their third pairing, following Anchorman and The 40 Year-Old Virgin, and I could easily see them doing more together.
As good as Carell and Rudd are, the supporting cast really adds to the humor. Lucy Punch steals all her scenes as the psycho ex-girlfriend Darla. Her "love" scene with Carell is one of the movie's highlights. Jemaine Clement is also quite funny as the eccentric artist Kieran. Galifianakis, who's comedic career is so hot right now, is perhaps the weakest character, offering the fewest laughs. His battle with Carell at the dinner party, while key to Barry's development, is actually one of the least funny scenes, bordering on stupid and not in a good way. David Walliams of Little Britain fame is surprisingly given the rather straight role of Mueller rather than a comedic one. And Chris O'Dowd, from the British Sitcom The IT Crowd, has a small but funny turn as the blind Swordsmen.
The comedy is all very silly and often over-the-top. If you can't laugh at nonsense, I not only feel sorry for you, but also caution you to stay away from this one because that's what this movie is. If you go into it expecting some kind of sophisticated humor because it's based on a foreign film, then you're in the wrong theater. There's nothing sophisticated about this movie, but there is plenty to laugh at in it.
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (2010)