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Paul Rudd stars as Tim, a relatively decent guy trying to get ahead in a big, cutthroat financial services company. After proposing to his boss (Bruce Greenwood) that the company approach a wealthy son of a major Swiss business man (David Walliams), Tim is invited to a dinner event to prove his worth for a promotion.
Tim’s task is to find a person with a “rare talent” to invite to the dinner for an insider’s game to see who can invite the biggest “schmuck”. Tim is caught between his morals and his desire for the promotion when he literally runs into (with his car) Barry (Steve Carell).
Barry is an obviously odd man who conveys a rare talent for turning stuffed mice into caricatures for historical depictions. Tim’s moral confusion is lost when such an obvious schmuck is set before him. What he doesn’t plan for is Barry’s immediate and obsessive liking to him.
In one day, Barry manages to cause strife for Tim and his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak), gets him into trouble with the IRS man (Zach Galifianakis), brings an obsessed former fling (Lucy Punch) back into Tim’s life, and makes multiple (unintentional) attempts at ruining his major business opportunity.
Dinner for Schmucks boasts a stellar comedy cast that also includes Ron Livingston (Office Space) and Jermaine Clement, who stars as Julie’s over-the-top and highly sexual artistic partner Kieran.
On the surface, and in the first few minutes of the film, Dinner for Schmucks appears like nothing more than a collection of talented actor schmucks getting together for a goofy comedy movie that likely lacks much comedy.
Though a perfect fit as Michael on TVs “The Office,” Steve Carell’s film characters have been polarizing at best. Paul Rudd (a la John Cusack in the 80s and 90s) has been the “guy” in every romantic comedy for several years. For some odd reason, their relationship and interaction with the other players in this film works.
The story is certainly far fetched and the premise of a climactic ending centering on a “dinner for idiots” does not sound like the makings of great film, but Dinner for Schmucks is a genuinely laugh out loud movie throughout.
Along with the funny, you even get a nice moral story of a guy trying to get ahead at work, conflicted by the cruel game he must participate in to make it. Coinciding with Tim’s inner struggles are his struggles to keep Barry from ruining his life and to convince Julie he is still the man she knows and not the man that would take Barry to dinner to be made fun of.
Dinner for Schmucks is by no means a highly intelligent and sophisticated script, but that is not its purpose. It is comedy entertainment delivered by a cast of characters with just the right chemistry. Additionally, you have several moments when circumstances spell the end for Tim, but he gets just enough of a reprieve to keep the story going.
Some sexual themes and modest language suggest Dinner for Schmucks may not be suitable for children. However, if you are a mature adult (and even if you are not) who likes to laugh, this film is for you.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 114 Minutes
DVD Release Date: January 4, 2011
Director: Jay Roach
Starring: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Stephanie Szostak, Zach Galifianakis, Jemaine Clement
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