Francis Veber's award-winning comedy classic "Le Diner de Cons" (DdeC) released in 1998 quickly became an international success both artistically as financially. DdeC received numerous honors including six Cesar nominations winning three: best script (Francis Veber), best actor (Jacques Villeret aka Francois Pignon), and best supporting actor (Daniel Prevost aka Lucien Cheval, the Revenue Auditor). The "Cesar du cinema Francais" is similar to our (USA) Oscar Academy Awards and annually rewards the best performance in the various cinema-related specialties from acting to production. DdeC has been used as a teaching model for writing intelligent humorous scripts, inventive editing, and acting in some cinema schools. Veber adapted his script from his play of the same title which premiered in 1993 and has been playing ever since in Europe. It is a masterpiece worth discovering. The script was intelligently written, the quick paced dialog flowed harmoniously as the protagonist's situation deteriorated. The interpretation was sensitive, expressive and flawless.
Back to Dinner for Schmucks: As an American, I found the Hollywood version insulting and demeaning. Trying to bank on the success of the original as is often the case with remakes, you take whatever worked in the first presentation, recycle it, repeat it over, amplify it, mass produce it, etc In Dinner for Schmucks, you steal an original premise, bastardize a bullet-proof script, exaggerate the humorous moments to absurdity, add profanity and obscenity to the dialogue ("he was searching for her lost clitoris under the table"), mix in some sex scenes, sanitize to ensure (American) political correctness, include most ethnic groups to maximize distribution (i.e. profit margin), the only thing missing may have been to add some farts and burps You get the picture.
Are we so stupid and ignorant that Hollywood still makes profits feeding us such cheap products? I was insulted having to critique this movie to college students especially since this cinema class had reviewed the French version a few years past. One positive observation: Steve Carell and Paul Rudd did an OK performance as the protagonists unfortunately Carell's role was annoying and exaggerated to plain stupidity as opposed to the social ineptitude of the original performer (Villeret). Jemaine Clement did a believable performance as the artist. As for the real schmuck of this film, it is the director Jay Roach who seems to excel in this type of comedy.
Overall, this movie is a lifeless comedy and a very sad but true representation of what many American film productions have degenerated into: cheap financial profit sources without body or soul. Do not waste your money on this lousy production misrepresented as the "American version of the award-winning French classic comedy". If that is the case then America is in trouble.
Rating: 2 out of 10 for the acting especially Clement's.