Film Review: "Dinner For Schmucks"

(Paramount Pictures. 1 hour, 54 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity and language. Directed by Jay Roach.) Steve Carell (Barry), Paul Rudd (Tim), Zach Galifianakis (Therman), Jemaine Clement (Kieran), Stephanie Szostak (Julie). Music by Theodore Shapiro.
Tim (Rudd), an ambitious businessman eying a promotion, is invited to a special dinner: each guest has to bring an idiot, and the person who brings the biggest idiot wins. On the verge of backing out due to the objections of his fiance Julie (Szostak), Tim accidentally runs over Barry (Carrell), an oddball IRS agent with a penchant for building dioramas using dead mice. A fitfully funny summer comedy.

Based on the French black comedy The Dinner Game, Schmucks is another in the line of foreign remakes. The premise is interesting, and the dinner itself is hilarious, but the rest of the movie is hit-and-miss. Aside from the scenes that really work, some get overworked, and others simply stall out, falling short of "hilarity" and landing in "merely uncomfortable." A more judicious editor might have helped, especially since the movie feels about 15 minutes too long. The cast does a really good job with the material, and the leads work well together, with Rudd as a capable straight man and Carrell as a good-natured but destructive moron. The diversity of the cast is also impressive, including The Daily Show's Larry Wilmore, Little Britain's David Walliams, The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd and Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement. It's not a bad way to spend a summer afternoon, but I wouldn't pay full price for it.
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Jared Counts

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Jared Counts moved to Houston in 1995, survived high school and college, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a degree in Communications (Media Production) and a minor in Film Studies...