“Dinner for Schmucks” Is Cinematic Fast Food
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Recently I attended a dinner party where the conversation was inane. The guests sat around the table discussing lofty subjects of which they had little knowledge or insight. I found it amusing, listening to this bunch of intellectual schmucks.
You too will find it amusing to attend a “Dinner for Schmucks,” that being the new Steve Carell comedy at the Tropic Cinema. The premise of this silly outing is that a couple of guys hold dinner parties for idiots for the very purpose of making fun of them.
Paul Rudd (“I Love You, Man”) plays an ambitious young exec who recruits these silly guests for his boss’s monthly get-togethers. The idea is to find the biggest buffoon. And our guy scores when he invites Steve Carell (“Despicable Me,” TV’s “The Office”), even wackier than usual as an off-center IRS employee.
Others at the fête include Zach Galifianakis, Jermaine Clement, and Lucy Punch.
Director Jay Roach should write “An Idiot’s Guide to Dinner Parties.” His staging allows the guests’ repartee to ricochet around the banquet table, quips bouncing about like a food fight.
The plot may seem a tad mean-spirited, but it’s played for laughs. It’s actually a remake of a French farce titled “The Dinner Game” (or “Le diner de cons”) by Francis Veber. Same idea, without the Gallic wit.
Steve Carell plays his role like a male version of Sandra Bullock’s annoying character in “All About Steve.” But Carell, with spiky blond hair and spectacles, sells us on this weird persona. Paul Rudd is the straight man in the comedic duo and as such has fewer funny lines.
However, in the end this is more like Chinese takeout than a full-course dinner. And a half hour after you walk out of the theater you’ll be hungry for more laughs than you got.
[from Solares Hill]