Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dinner for Schmucks is a Three-Course Comedy

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 2:42 PM

By now, you’ve probably seen the trailer for the movie that is being heralded as this summer’s inappropriate comedy. (If you haven’t, it’s embedded below.)

So who would have thought that Dinner for Schmucks could be described as “charming” or “sweet?” Now, don’t worry, there’s a bucketload of laughs, but it practically celebrates idiocy rather than mocks it.

Paul Rudd plays Tim, who in order to climb his particularly ruthless corporate ladder, must invite a schmuck to dinner. Steve Carell plays Barry, the schmuck and a guy with the funniest hobby we’ve seen yet. So BW’s arts and entertainment schmuck, Amy Atkins, and resident news and movie schmuck George Prentice accept this invitation to dinner and compared notes over dessert.

George Prentice: Amy, I think the first thing I have to say concerns the first thing in the movie: the opening titles. I loved them. With the Beatles singing “Fool on the Hill,” we watch a pair of gentle hands craft this lovely world of stuffed mice, complete with costumes and wonderfully tiny dioramas. Even though there are several scenes featuring this bizarre hobby, I never tired of this joke. If anything, I found it more endearing and laughable each time.

Amy Atkins: George, I could not agree more. Those little mice were so charming and whimsical, they alone were with the ticket price. Speaking of titles, I have to say, my anticipation grew as the supporting stars’ names popped up on screen: Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) David Walliams (Little Britain), Christopher O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover). Each one added his own little ray of sunshine to the film.

GP: I think Steve Carell and Paul Rudd did fine with their roles (Barry and Tim respectively). Have they been funnier in other films? Sure. But they’re true to their characters and I truly believe that they could be friends.

AA: I guess. But in real life, I think someone like Barry doesn’t so much grow on a person as wear him or her down.

GP: And how about Jermaine Clement as Kieren Vollard? How is it possible that he appears with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd and he steals the scene. Even his character’s name is funny.

AA: I’m such a big fan of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, Clement can do no wrong in my eyes. And he completely exceeded my expectations as a narcissistic yet engaging artist. I will say, however, I thought the pacing of the film left a little to be desired.

GP: I agree with you in that the movie sags, especially in the middle. My best advice to someone would be not to be afraid to hit the concession stand about an hour in to the film.

AA: When I got up to go to the bathroom, I wasn’t worried that I would miss much. When I returned to my seat, I realized I hadn’t.

GP: But the last half hour of the movie really picks up again. After all, we’re all waiting for the big dinner. And I don’t know about you, but I was not disappointed. I found myself laughing. A lot.

AA: You did laugh a lot. But for me, the dinner was a little anti-climactic. It makes sense that some of the redemption scenes take place there, but it was a little unrealistic. The dioramas were, of course, adorable, but a little over the top in that situation for me.

GP: And for me, the ending was very satisfying. I’m a sucker for happy endings. So definitely don’t miss the beginning of the ending.

AA: I would agree. I have no problem with a happy ending wrapped up in a neat little package, and this movie did exactly that. I definitely left the theater feeling a little lighter.

GP: I guess I surprised myself with my overall experience. I was fully expecting to have most of my laughs at the expense of idiots, but in fact, I found many of the “schmucks” charming and their idiocy was more charming than insulting. I really loved the “schmucks.”

AA: I think the schmuckiness of, let’s face it, everybody in the movie, was the most appealing aspect. I wish Barry had a little more self realization, but overall I was totally drawn to him. Would I have him and Paul Rudd over for dinner? You bet.

Dinner For Schmucks opens Friday, July 30.

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