Dinner For Schmucks (15)

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Review byMatthew Turner03/09/2010

One out of Five stars
Running time: 114 mins

Badly written, poorly directed and lazily acted, this is an increasingly desperate comedy that wastes a talented comic cast and fails to generate anything resembling actual laughs.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jay Roach, Dinner for Schmucks is based on Francis Veber's 1998 French comedy Le Diner de Cons, which it's probably best not to translate literally. Paul Rudd stars as Tim, a good-hearted but ambitious businessman whose boss (Bruce Greenwood) wants him to prove himself in a competition if he's going to win a promotion.

The competition involves befriending the biggest idiot you can find and bringing them to a dinner at his boss's house, so Tim thinks he's onto a winner when he meets Barry (Steve Carell), a total idiot whose hobby involves making stuffed mouse tableaux with mice he scrapes off the road. However, Tim gets more than he bargained for when Barry ends up staying at his flat and causing chaos at every turn.

The Bad
You know something's gone wrong somewhere when a remake takes over twelve years to finally get made. Sure enough, the script completely dilutes Veber's very funny original film, starting with the fact that Tim is essentially acting under duress rather than actively looking forward to the dinner because he thinks he'll win. Similarly, the original film doesn't even have the titular dinner in it, whereas the remake treats that as its supposed comic set-piece, thereby rather missing the point of the film.

Rudd is as likeable as ever, but even he struggles to generate laughs when the script is this bad. Similarly, Carell badly misjudges his performance on every level and is irritating rather than sympathetic or funny. (That said, the “mouse-terpieces” are good.)

The Worst
The biggest problem is that none of the comic set-pieces work, particularly during the final scenes. The script is also cliched and boring and fails to do anything worthwhile with the changes to the original film.

On top of that, the film completely wastes a talented comic cast that includes Jemaine Clement (probably the funniest thing in the film, though that's not saying much), Zach Galifianakis (barely putting the effort in), Lucy Punch (mugging like her life depended on it), Chris O'Dowd and David Walliams, who at least gets more screen time here than he did in Marmaduke.

Worth seeing?
Dinner for Schmucks is a shockingly poor comedy that is entirely laugh-free. Frankly, it's schmucking terrible. Avoid.

Film Trailer

Dinner For Schmucks (15)
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Content updated: 20/07/2018 17:41

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