Review: Dinner For Schmucks

PLOT: Tim (Paul Rudd), an up and coming young executive, is given a shot at a big promotion but first, he’ll have to participate in his boss` monthly “Dinner for Idiots.” A cruel evening dedicated to making fun of misfits, Tim is reluctant to participate until he meets Barry (Steve Carrell) a moronic IRS worker, who, after a chance encounter, begins to systematically destroy Tim`s life.

REVIEW: I walked into DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS expecting to hate it. A remake of the French comedy classic, LE DINER DE CONS, this isn’t the first time one of French director Francis Veber`s movies have been remade as an American film. Previous attempts have ranged from good (THREE MEN AND A BABY), to mediocre (FATHERS DAY) to terrible (THREE FUGITIVES, PURE LUCK).

So far, the ads for this film have been painfully unfunny, and I was honestly expecting two agonizing hours. Luckily, DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS (hate that title, which was obviously supposed to be DINNER FOR IDIOTS), is a lot better than the trailers make it out to be. Credit the films success to the obvious chemistry between the two leads, Paul Rudd, and Steve Carrell.

Its obvious that these two genuinely enjoy working together, and they play off each other wonderfully, particularly during the early scenes where Tim`s just being clued into what a force of nature Barry is. There`s a scene about midway through where Barry, having destroyed Tim`s relationship with his beautiful girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), tries to help him impress an eccentric Swiss investor (hilariously played with more than a hint of casual European aristocratic cruelty by David Walliams of LITTLE BRITAIN) that almost had people in the theater rolling in the aisles. It`s a hilarious comedic set piece that, without Carell and Rudd playing off each other so wonderfully, could have fallen dreadfully flat.

However, that`s not to say DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS is any kind of comedy classic. Heck, it`s not even one of my favorite comedies this year (CYRUS, GET HIM TO THE GREEK, and even HOT TUB TIME MACHINE were much better). For one thing, at close to two hours, this DINNER goes on way too long, and could have easily lost a good 15-20 minutes. The film also starts off mighty slow and only really kicks into high gear once Carrell shows up. It must be said, Carell doesn’t stretch at all here, pretty much playing Michael Scott from THE OFFICE with a different haircut- but whatever, it works so no complaints.

Special note must also be made of FLIGHT OF THE CONCORDS star Jermaine Clement, who’s hilarious as the pretentious artist, with designs on Tim’s girlfriend. We also get newly minted comedy mega star Zach Galifianakis as Carell’s “mind reading” nemesis, and their climatic, and moronic duel is pretty damn funny.

I’d say DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS is a solid choice if you’re interested in seeing a slight, inoffensive comedy, with a good number of chuckles and guffaws. Probably the only amazing thing about it was that the filmmakers were somehow able to pony up the cash to include The Beatles’ ‘The Fool On The Hill’ on the soundtrack (and the original recording to boot not an I AM SAM style crap cover). Still, it gets the job done, so if you’re a Carell or Rudd fan, by all means, have at it!

RATING: 6.5/10

Review: Dinner For Schmucks




About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.