The story of Tim(Paul Rudd), a guy on the verge of having it all. The only thing standing between him and total career success is finding the perfect guest to bring to his boss' annual Dinner for Extraordinary People, an event where the winner of the evening brings the most eccentric character as his guest. Enter Barry (Steve...more
The story of Tim(Paul Rudd), a guy on the verge of having it all. The only thing standing between him and total career success is finding the perfect guest to bring to his boss' annual Dinner for Extraordinary People, an event where the winner of the evening brings the most eccentric character as his guest. Enter Barry (Steve Carell), a guy with a passion for dressing mice up in tiny outfits to recreate great works of art. less
'Dinner for Schmucks' is the official Hollywood remake of the French comedy, 'The Dinner Game / Le Diner de Cons', which has been unofficially remade in India twice; once in Hindi as 'Bheja Fry' (2007) and the other in Malayalam as 'April Fool' (2010).
In the original movie things were goofy & lively, plus there were plenty of slapstick jokes but the humor was also edgy & downright mean in parts. The problem with the Hollywood remake is director Jay Roach's (Austin Powers Trilogy, Meet the Parents) inability to decide on the right tone for the movie. The movie starts off somewhat with a tinge of dark humor which might lead you to believe that something interesting is in store for you but half-way through and the movie is happy to relapse into the usual comedy shtick of slapstick gags. In the middle of all this like any other comedy, the movie tries to place an emotional device that offers redemption to the characters that might have been less than likable in the eyes of the audience before. The constantly shifting focus of the film doesn't allow it to realize the full potential of the concept resulting in a movie that has quite a few amusing individual moments but the sum of those moments never seems to add up to something utterly satisfying.
Tim (Paul Rudd) is looking for the ever elusive promotion which would take him to the echelons of the highest management in his office. To test how ruthless Tim can be his boss, Fender (Bruce Greenwood), invites him to a monthly dinner exclusive to the top brass of the company. This isn't just any usual corporate dinner but rather a monthly event where the invitees are told to bring along with them an "idiot" who will become the butt of the jokes for the evening. The most amusing idiot will walk away with a trophy and the company man/woman who brings him along will walk away with the "admiration" of the rest of the staff. Tim thinks this practice to be morally reprehensible but really wants that promotion in hopes of having a better life for him and his girlfriend, Julie, thus goes along with it. Fate leads him to Barry (Steve Carell) who's the perfect idiot, but little does Tim know that within hours of having met Barry his life will turn over its head in the most unimaginable manner possible.
The movies idea is simple, throw as many jokes as possible at the audience; a few are naturally going to stick. Thus there are quite a few hits and misses in the humor department, but a few scenes like the restaurant meeting with a rich Swiss client of Tim's, are an absolute riot. On the other hand the climax feels far too stretched and disintegrates into a slapstick circus with little to tickle your funny bone.
The hobby of Barry's which is creating works of art using dead mice (he dresses them up as real people) provides for some surprisingly amusing and poignantly touching moments (especially when the story of his ex-wife is shown); though I have to say the whole idea gave me the creeps initially.
The strength of the movie lies in Steve Carell's performance that we never doubt he's putting on an act. He's a lovable guy but we also begin to believe he can really get under the skin of anybody who spends even a little time with him. Though in keeping him a gentle-hearted fellow, the script also allows us to sympathize with him when the time comes. The other two actors with absolutely hilarious bits are Lucy Punch as Darla, Tim's psychotic stalker and Zach Galifianakis as Barry's co-worker who claims to perform mind control. Paul Rudd on the other hand gets the thankless role of the straight guy and though he's competent, the performance comes off as pretty generic. Thankfully though Barry and Tim form quite the odd couple hence they end up playing off each other petty well.
Now the major question which most people would like to know the answer to; how does it stack up against 'Bheja Fry'? Well, I would say inspite of its plagiarized nature, the Hindi remake holds its own against the Hollywood remake.
I would say 'Dinner for Schmucks' is perfectly adequate fare for those who do not demand too much from their comedies. Give it a try & maybe it won't disappoint you.