When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he's invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.
Tim (Rudd) is a rising executive who "succeeds" in finding the perfect guest, IRS employee Barry (Carell), for his boss's monthly event, a so-called "dinner for idiots," which offers certain advantages to the exec who shows up with the biggest buffoon.Written by
Barry pulls Tim from the elevator door. First he holds Tim's arm but on a change of camera he holds Tim's leg. See more »
Well, I try to look at the bright side. I guess you could say I'm an eternal optometrist.
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After the credits, A diorama is displayed of a stuffed mouse sitting in a burnt down house, with Barry heard laughing as he reveals that Fender's company has gone bust with Forbes Magazine naming him the "World's Biggest Loser." See more »
The Fool on the Hill
Written by John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Performed by The Beatles
Courtesy of Capitol Records LLC
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
Played over both the opening and end credits See more »
Spotty comedy, saved by Carrell's brilliant performance
I think it was the great comedian Edmund Gwenn who made the statement that "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." That is probably true but I am convinced that there are some actors who can make comedy look easy. At his best, Steve Carrell does just that. In 'Dinner for Schmucks' he occupies the role of Barry Speck, a blithering idiot for whom life is a jolly holiday and cynicism is a notion that seems to have passed him over. Barry's view of the world is devoid of irony or whimsy, he stares blankly with wide eyes and a stupid grin and never seems to understand what is happening right in front of him.
Let me give you an example. Near the beginning of the movie, Barry is being seduced by a blond bimbo who tells him that she thinks she needs a spanking. We get this exchange:
The Blond: "I'm a naughty school girl. I've been bad." Barry: "You look a little old to be a school girl" The Blond: "You're my schoolmaster. I need to be punished." Barry: "I'm not really qualified for that. I work for the IRS."
That kind of idiocy makes Barry the perfect tool for Tim Conrad (Paul Rudd), a mid-level financial executive who curries favor with his implacable boss Lance Fender (Bruce Greenwood) when he manages to sell a Swiss billionaire on the idea of turning defective bombs into effective, yet unattractive, lamps. Fender is impressed and invites Tim to an annual dinner party at his mansion, a "Dinner for Winners" in which the purpose is for each guest to bring the biggest idiot they can find. The guest with the most entertaining idiot wins a trophy.
The journey getting to that dinner party mostly involves Tim trying to survive Barry's idiocy. He has a way of saying and doing the most outrageous things while maintaining a demeanor that lets us believe that he hasn't the slightest clue that his behavior is the least bit odd, even his hobby of making cute dioramas with dead mice.
The first half of the film is genuinely funny, as it observes Barry and his world as he looks out with wide eyes, a goofy smile. Yet, the rest of the movie is spotty. Once we get to know Barry, the movie tries to mix a riot of slapstick comedy with moments of sentimentality that are mostly made up of half-baked speeches about the value of friendship.
The third act gets the film back on track somewhat as we finally arrive at that dinner party. What works are the simple observations about Barry and the other morons in attendance (one of whom is Jeff Dunham who is in a marital spat with one of his dummies). Those characters are funny but the scene goes overboard with a very long battle involving Barry and a nitwit mind-reader named Thurman Munch (Zach Galifianakis) who wears Dickies over his shirts and has a self-satisfied autobiography called "Your Mind Is My Puppet". The scene quickly spirals into a very bizarre area reminiscent of some of Monty Python's lesser sketches.
Steve Carrell is the the entire reason for seeing 'Dinner for Schmucks'. His wonderful performance is pitch perfect, playing a lovable dolt who genuinely believes what he says, even when he confesses to Tim that the reason his wife left his that "I lost her clitoris". To see the deadpan look in his eyes is to understand that Barry believes this statement completely. It is also possibly to understand why his wife really left him.
*** (of four)
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