Monday, August 2, 2010
LACKING THE BIG LAUGHS: DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS REVIEW
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS (C+)
My feelings about this movie can be described easiest by simply saying, I expected more. This movie of course features the talents of Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, and Ron Livingston. With that cast, viewers go into a movie like this and expect to laugh hysterically. But this movie did not feature much of that. Sure it had its funny parts, but it lacked the kind of belly busting laughter a viewer would expect from a comedy like this. Even minus my high comedic expectations, this movie just did not do anything to really establish itself amongst other films in the genre.
The movie stars Rudd as a businessman Tim looking to further his career by impressing his bosses on the floor above him. A profitable pitch at a business meeting impresses the hierarchy at his company which gets him an invite to the special dinner that features idiots parading their bizarre talents for all to make fun of. Tim in need of a zany dinner guest, has a chance run in with Barry (Steve Carell) and realizes that he could be the perfect guest to impress his boss at this dinner.
Barry is a character right out of the pages of ridiculousness. While it can be funny at times, Barry almost doesn't seem like an actual person with his non-stop destructive behavior towards Tim. Dinner for Schmucks is a goofy comedy, but the movie very much tries to portray Barry as a normal guy who behaves strange and not just a personification of wacky behavior.
A perfect example of the right combination of an idiotic personality still seeming like a normal person is Carell's character Michael Scott from The Office. I am not saying Dinner for Schmucks should have written Michael into this movie, just that the Dunder Mifflin boss is the perfect mix of believability and funny. Michael is a moron in most regards, but the audience can identify with him because he still seems like someone we could or do know in our lives. Barry is just too much absurdness all the time to ever resemble something believable. Of course I am nit-picking, but this was how the movie was written, so I am going to put in my two cents.
The progression of the narrative was predictable like most comedies where you can see what is coming before it happens on screen. However, most good comedies, while predictable, feature plenty of laughs from many angles. Dinner for Schmucks did not have the laughs expected and never left the beaten path story-wise. Even while boasting a strong cast, this film is not going to stand out or really be remembered five years from now.
Dinner for Schmucks lacked the comedic bombs that are going to leave your eyes watering and your gut hurting. But there are plenty of little doses of laughter that could make this movie for you. Comedy is usually hit or miss with audiences. I can see people enjoying the laughs in this movie more than I did. Along that thought, the comedy in this movie will work for some better than others. I am among the others, but maybe you will be part of the some who thinks this movie is indeed funnier than I did.
The script was written by David Guion and Michael Handleman. These two could not come up with any dialogue that was really funny or even memorable. Even though I said this earlier, how, with a cast like this, can these writers not come up with some memorable dialogue for these comedic juggernauts to deliver? Funny dialogue is so important, and Guion and Handleman spend all their time concocting new outlandish situations for the characters to interact in. This movie features a lot of situational comedy, which is funny, but gravitates toward overkill when these unreal circumstances never stop.
The two main characters Tim (Rudd) and Barry (Carell) are given some development which helped the movie as it progressed. Getting to know the characters in a comedy always puts more enjoyment on the platter. A movie like Dinner for Schmucks especially needed this aspect as it lacked the big laughs a comedy like this should deliver. The chemistry between Rudd and Carell becomes more apparent as the two characters grow closer together, but that really isn't enough to make this story float. Dinner for Schmucks lacks the quality secondary characters like the two boys Augie and Ronnie provide in Role Models.
Overall, Dinner for Schmucks is a solid effort, but fails to deliver on the biggest piece of this film's draw, the comedy. I chuckled quite a bit in this movie, but never belted out with laughter. With the talented cast featured, the lack of "LOL" made this movie average. I wanted to love this movie as I had been excited to see it since I saw the first trailer. But as I walked out of the theater all I felt was disappointment, and my feelings were mirrored by the people I attended the showing with.
Dinner for Schmucks is worth a matinee showing or a rental, but don't spend the big bucks to check out this lackluster comedy. The best movie in theaters is still Inception; if you haven't seen it, get out and do so.
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