Dinner For Schmucks
Review by Jack Foley
AT FIRST glance, a seat at the table of Dinner For Schmucks would seem quite appetising given the talent involved.
Based on the popular French farce Le Dîner de Cons (released in 1998), the film is the latest from Jay (Meet The Parents) Roach and top-lines Steve Carell and Paul Rudd alongside the likes of Lucy Punch, David Walliams, Chris O’Dowd, US ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis.
Sadly, the results are at best only mildly amusing.
The plot follows promotion-seeking executive Tim (Rudd) as he attempts to find a loser to compete at his boss’ ‘dinner for winners’, which rewards – and secretly belittles – the biggest oddball of the night.
Tim is in with a chance, however, after meeting awkward tax agent Barry (Carell), a man with a penchant for creating artwork from dead mice. But as annoying as Barry becomes, Tim soon finds his loyalty tested and his loyalties shifting.
Admittedly, Roach’s film isn’t completely devoid of laughs and there is the odd ‘inspired’ gag that will have you chuckling heartily.
But his film struggles to balance the wildly OTT eccentricities of many of his characters with the more sentimental aspects of the story, creating a disjointed and uneven experience.
Carell, too, pushes his limits as the oddball Barry, struggling to balance his more stupid, slapstick moments with any levels of intelligence that would make him endearing. It’s tribute to the actor’s comedic talents that his performance can, at least, be said to be good.
Rudd, meanwhile, plays put upon well but also struggles to make his character likeable.
Galifianakis and Walliams, on the other hand, appear to be trying a little too hard to be quirky, with only O’Dowd and Punch really creating memorable characters.
At a little under two hours, the bloated running time also tests the patience sorely… meaning that this particular dinner won’t exactly leave you feeling satisfied.
Running time: 108mins
UK DVD Release: January 17, 2011