Movie Review: Dinner for Schmucks

A comedy based on a Francis Veber play Le dîner de cons, is about Tim, played by Paul Rudd, a financial executive who gets an opportunity to move forward in his career if he attends a dinner for idiots. The rule is that with him he has to bring an unusual character (an idiot) to showcase at the dinner at the end of which the “best” idiot wins. The action begins when Tim nearly hits Barry (played by Steve Carell) with his car as Barry runs in front of it to save a dead mouse. After learning that Barry uses dead mice in his dioramas (on various subjects) Tim realizes that he would be the perfect person for the dinner. There were some really great funny moments in the movie, and no matter how painful this is for me to say I did not like Carell in this role at all. Throughout most of the movie I found myself thinking “wow I feel kind of sorry for Barry” but not in the “wow I wish he was a little smarter” way. This was the biggest problem for me in this film, I didn’t feel like I was laughing at a person that was actually an idiot, I felt like I was laughing at a person with a serious mental illness (someone who you really shouldn’t be making fun of).  Walking into the theater I was expecting a dumb and dumber-esque comedy, light hearted and full of stupid little antics. The entire movie I was picking on the smaller guy. All the other schmucks were very funny because they were devoid of backgrounds there was nothing that grounded them. I think Carell should have dumbed down his character because his great acting, in combination with Barry’s back story and Barry’s present state of existence (not to mention how desperate the movie is to be too many things at once, funny, sad, cruel, understanding, touching, etc) made me feel like I was laughing at a serious case of retardation instead of plain, old idiocy. Let’s take Kieran (Jemaine Clement) for example he was a classic idiot, he oozed idiocy every time he spoke and it was a pleasure to laugh at him because it was actually funny. Barry was pitiful, annoying, and needed to check himself into the nearest mental institution, he wasn’t funny. Everything about him was sad starting with his mice, going to his wife and ending with his job. I guess I am not a huge fan of that particular sub-genre of comedy, but in my humble opinion, despite the good acting, dinner for schmucks kind of schmucked. Overall rating is 6/10. Verdict, tries way too hard. This movie attempts to be funny and touching at the same time, the only problem is it forces us to laugh at the touching parts too. Dinner for Schmucks doesn’t draw the line between what we should find funny and what we shouldn’t; it tries to be an every-guy (and girl) kind of film and let’s be honest you can’t be everything at once. by: Darya K