“Dinner for Schmucks” Movie Review

   There are certain actors who generate a prerelease buzz for their films which make it a must see and Steve Carell has become one of them.  Add in the comic talents of Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover), and Meet the Parents director Jay Roach and you would be thinking surefire summer hit.  Well in this case you’d be wrong as “Dinner for Schmucks” is only mildly funny in some scenes and amazingly dull in the rest.

     The story follows Rudd’s character, Tim, as he pitches an idea to the executive board of the company he works for and is given the opportunity for a big promotion.  The company’s founder then invites him to a dinner where each big wig is responsible for bringing with them an idiot who everyone can make fun of.  In a chance meeting, Rudd runs into Carell’s Barry, a Norman Bates look alike who even does rodent taxidermy as a hobby.  The plot moves on from there, culminating in the dinner.

     Good comedies are born from two important ingredients and Schmucks, no doubt, has one of them with the casting of Carell and Rudd.  Their comic timing is impeccable and their on screen personalities are such that sometimes you smile and laugh just because of their presence on screen.  What’s missing here is the script.  The film goes on for a clunky 45 minutes before I even had anything even resembling a laugh and that was the introduction of Zach Galifianakis’ character.  From that point on it was still a mixed bag as the film suffers from bad dialogue and no sense of comic timing.

     The film is just loaded with a bunch of stupid, not funny, and repulsive characters.  Two of the many which caught my eye were Darla (Lucy Punch) and Kieran (Jemaine Clement).  Darla is a girl who stalks Tim throughout the film and she adds nothing.  Her scenes ruin any chance of Carell and Rudd saving this picture.  Even worse was Kieran, an artist whose lines in the film are limited to giving relationship advice to Tim and his girlfriend Julie, yet he himself is a disgusting, hairy, man whore.  Just the sight of him on screen will make you want to puke.

     When we finally get to the dinner the title refers too, the audience is probably already disappointed and hoping for a grand finale.  If you see this film, don’t expect a home run at the end because your not getting one.  In fact, if you’ve seen the trailer, then you’ve already seen the best parts of the end.  I commented to my wife before seeing the film that the trailer seemed to only feature the dinner scene.  Since the film is 1 hour 50 minutes long, I figured this may have been one of those films where they didn’t feature all of the funny parts in the trailer.  After seeing Schmucks, I know now why this was the case.  There isn’t anything funny to put in the trailer from the first hour and a half of the movie!

     I look back at a classic comedy like Eddie Murphy’s “The Nutty Professor” and remember that dinner scene.  In that film, the dinner scene was absolutely hilarious and it occurs during the first 30 minutes of the film.  “Professor” goes on to hilarious scene after hilarious scene and is quite memorable; whereas, Schmucks climaxes with a dinner scene.  Maybe this film would’ve been better had the dinner scene occurred immediately and its consequences served as the rest of the film (No, I’m not suggesting a sequel!).

     I’m truly surprised Jay Roach would attach himself to a project like this because it serves as the first bomb of his career.  Before this the guy seemed to have the golden touch with such classics as the Austin Powers trilogy and both Meet the Parents films.  Thankfully, his next outing will be a fourth Austin Powers film where it is now apparent that both he and Mike Myers (The Love Guru) need to recover from their most recent projects. GRADE: D-