Sunday, August 1, 2010

Dinner for Schmucks

Movie Review

I’m not a movie snob, I swear! I loved Hot Tub Time Machine. I never got around to posting my review of that, so I have nothing in print. I do love stupid movies, really. I wanted to like this movie so much. I was looking forward to it all week. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny. Unfortunately, it wasn’t funny enough, and it wasted a lot of talented people.

I’m sure you all know the basic premise by now. Tim (Paul Rudd) wants a big promotion at work, and in order to prove he’s “one of the guys” he must attend the monthly "Dinner for Winners." The dinner consists of bringing a companion who is the worst loser you can find. The snotty corporate bigwigs secretly make fun of the guests and they proceed to try to top each other the next time.

The film is based loosely on the French film The Dinner Game. I keep hearing from the critics that this is a much better film, and I plan to check it out just to compare and contrast.

Paul Rudd should be cast in a remake of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I mean, this guy never ages! He looks exactly the same as he did in Clueless! Rudd has the ability to be very funny, but he rarely gets a role that showcases his abilities. Once again, this role did not give him much to do.

Steve Carell is the resident schmuck and he does his usual, annoying-nerd-with-heart-that-you-cannot-help-but-love. He has some good scenes, but he’s falling into the Ben Stiller trap of playing the same role all the time. Stiller broke that streak with Tropic Thunder, and I hope Carell can also find something different in a future role.

Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) was one of the bright spots. He’s poised to really explode soon. Flight of the Conchords only reached a cult following and now that Clement is free of his HBO show, I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of him. He has a great presence and everything he says and does is funny just because he’s saying and doing it.

This film was littered with small roles for great people, but they were unfortunately wasted. Larry Wilmore, Kristen Schaal and Chris O’Dowd were not allowed to live up to their comic potential.

I did laugh. Honestly, the mice dioramas were hysterical. Yet this film lacked the most important component for a comedy; there was nothing funny enough to make me ever want to watch it again.

**Postscript 8-23-10
I wanted to come back to this review and correct something I said. To me the most successful comedy film is one where you want to watch it multiple times to catch those great scenes over and over. Originally, I found this film mildly entertaining, but definitely a “one view only.” I have to confess that I have found myself bringing up several scenes in conversation and I enjoy seeing the commercials for it. I probably will watch this again at some point. Two films in my past, The World’s Greatest Lover and Wedding Crashers, failed to impress me the first time I watched them. Over time, however, I found “new” funny scenes each time I watched. It may be because I did not see either of those films in the theater. Maybe my expectations were too high after plucking down $10.25! I have a feeling this film could fall into that same category. I’ll let you know when it comes out on DVD.

Please enjoy this little taste of the best characters in the film...the mice


Rae said...

Well, that's kinda what I expected. However, I'm slightly biased in that, I'm not usually big on the "stupid funny" movies. A few of them I loved, but most I don't really care to see again...that is if I even got threw them in the first place. Thanks for the heads up on this one. Probably won't be checking it out, at least not in the theater. Doesn't sound like it's worth the pretty penny you pay to get in. Take care.

Kimberly said...

I was curious about this film, but not enough to go the theater so thanks! I'm tired of Steve C. roles - the last thing I loved him in was Anchorman. Hot Tub Time Machine is waiting for us to watch at home!!!