Like a good meal, the elements in “Dinner for Schmucks” take time to prepare.
First, we meet Tim (Paul Rudd). He’s got a girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), who he thinks is too good for him. He also has a high-pressure job that’s not quite covering the cost of his expensive lifestyle.
After a meeting goes well, Tim may be in line for a promotion, but there’s a catch. He has to bring a “loser” to the company’s “Dinner for Winners,” so all of the Seventh Floor types can have fun at others’ expense.
Tim considers skipping the dinner and the promotion, then he runs into Barry (Steve Carell) with his Porsche.
Barry seems to be the answer to Tim’s prayers. The guy’s a divorced, full-time I.R.S. agent and part-time taxidermist who dresses dead mice in human clothing.
Now, we have our elements together, so Barry can start chasing off, messing up or otherwise destroying whatever’s good about Tim’s life. Barry doesn’t do it on purpose. It’s just that everything he good-naturedly tries tends to blow up in Tim’s face.
“Dinner for Schmucks” is a succession of uncomfortably funny moments leading up to a 15-minute riot of comedy at the end.
Zach Galifianakis adds his hysterical presence as Therman, Barry’s mind-reading boss at the I.R.S. Therman also gets an invitation to the company dinner, where a memorable showdown ensues.
The point of a comedy is to make the audience laugh, and “Dinner for Schmucks” accomplishes that.
But it’s an uneven movie, and I found many of the early moments more uncomfortable than funny.
In addition, there’s a strain of cruelty running through this picture. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but I left the theater feeling a little dirty. It wasn’t the first time that’s happened, but still ….
I give “Dinner for Schmucks” a B.
It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, and Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson with Wizard 106.7 gives “Dinner for Schmucks” a C minus. “It was too ‘Three-Stooge-ish’ for me.’
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal