After he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their special guests, a rising executive questions the merits of his invitation just as he befriends a man ... Read allAfter he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their special guests, a rising executive questions the merits of his invitation just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.After he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their special guests, a rising executive questions the merits of his invitation just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.
Paul Rudd plays Tim, who works a nothing job in Generic Financial Firm #17, until his superiors offer him the chance at a promotion. The catch? He must impress at a dinner hosted by his boss, at which all employees must bring along the most idiotic guest they can find in the hope of taking out first prize. Enter Steve Carell's Barry, IRS employee and amateur taxidermist, whose unique 'skill' with turning dead mice into works of art makes him the perfect candidate. Also circling the plot is Tim's diminishing relationship with girlfriend Julie, who no longer has feelings for the corporate drone Tim has become.
The acting is competent overall, but two performances stand out and really give this film a kick. Clement seems to take great pride in his character: a pretentious artist whose hobbies include tantric sex and living amongst goats. In fact, his character is reminiscent of Russell Brand as Aldous Snow (Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek), but Clement comes right out of left field with excellent line delivery and tone, coupled with some fantastic physical comedy.
Paul Rudd may receive top billing, but make no mistake Steve Carell drives this film. Just about every line that comes out of Barry's mouth is gold, and a testament to the effort put into the screenplay. But it is the dimension, as opposed to just the humour, of Barry's character that makes him so engaging. He invokes real sympathy in a couple of emotional scenes that prove him to be much more than just a 'schmuck.' And his absurdist chemistry with Fat Jesus during the climactic scene is nothing short of hilarious.
As soppy as it sounds, the film drives home a nice moral about how all people, regardless of hobby or intellect, all crave the same feelings of friendship and compassion in their lives. One scene in which Barry effectively questions all that he has achieved in his life is particularly heart wrenching and although it sets the foundation for an admittedly cliché ending, it is pleasing to see a film that markets itself as a first-string comedy still putting emphasis on genuine affection and character.
When using a number system to rate films for as long as I have, one begins to develop a conscious idea about what number represents certain films. In my book, anything ranked at eight or above typically constitutes either a classic, or a film I think will be looked upon as a classic in the next twenty years. Dinner For Schmucks dosen't rank quite so high, but it puts up a great fight.
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- Feb 1, 2011