Friday, July 30, 2010

Movie Review: It's OK to Skip this Meal!

Dinner for Schmucks

It's really a shame when good actors deliver in a film -- but it's not enough to save a bad script. That's the case with Dinner for Schmucks, a remake of the French film The Dinner Game (Le Dîner de Cons), which itself was an adaptation of a French play. Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, who have previously teamed up in Anchorman and The 40 Year-Old Virgin, reunite for this offbeat comedy which mostly misses the mark.

Rudd plays Tim, a rising executive who succeeds in finding the perfect guest, Barry (Carell), for his boss's monthly "dinner for idiots" event. The gathering offers the executive who shows up with the biggest goofball a greater chances to climb the corporate ladder. Barry is an IRS employee with a bizarre hobby -- he's a taxidermist who builds incredibly-detailed dioramas featuring mice. Carrell (so perfect in the recent release Despicable Me) turns in a great performance as the dimwit. Rudd's straight man persona is more boring than usual (unlike his great turn in I Love You, Man). But Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) is hysterical as Barry's co-worker who also shows up at the dinner.

Sure, there are some funny moments. But the problem with the film is that the dinner doesn't occur until the end of the film -- and by then, you're likely to lose all interest due to the totally unbelievably silly happenings. For a good comedy to work, it has to at least be somewhat believable. Otherwise, how can you relate? The best part of the entire film is the opening credits sequence, where you see Barry's taxidermy work up close -- it's great stuff, but not worth paying to see it in the theater. In fact, if you rent the movie on DVD later this year, you can turn the player off after the opening credits finish rolling. The film also stars Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) and Ron Livingston (Office Space). Directed by Jay Roach (Austin Powers and Meet the Parents series). [Rated PG-13; opens today]

Grade: C+


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