Wednesday, August 4, 2010
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS whets the appetite, but doesn't fill you up.
Dinner for Schmucks takes a while to get to the dinner, where the comedy takes it up a notch. The journey to get there is okay, but it feels a little long at times. The saving grace for the film are its two leads, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, who give genuine comedic performances and have great chemistry. Without their talent and our willingness to follow their journey, the film would be just another comedy with no heart.
Paul Rudd plays Tim, a guy determined to get to the 7th floor at work and be one of the suit guys. He makes his move and is recognized for his determination. He receives an invitation to an annual dinner party where they are required to bring an "idiot" to the dinner. I don't think the word "schmuck" is ever uttered in the actual film. Tim, a good guy, isn't sure about doing such a thing, but when Steve Carell's Barry shows up, via a head on collision, Tim can't help but think it's fate. His girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak who is a real find ) disagrees. And before Tim knows it, Barry has infiltrated his life, destroyed his relationship, his apartment, his job, revved up his crazy stalker and so on. Barry is a sweet guy with a love of mouse taxidermy, but the man is a walking bomb. Carell walks a fine line between making Barry annoying and likable without turning us off. It gets close sometimes, but he pulls it back just in time.
The script is what falls short. It's written by David Guion and Michael Handelman , whose other credit is the film, THE EX, which wasn't all that funny. I don't blame the writers because who knows how many drafts it went through with dozens of fingers at it over the course of its inception. It's more so that potential was lost here.
Overall, the film is harmless and doesn't insult the audience. However, I want more for my comedies. I want to laugh out loud. It's what I paid for.