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“Dinner For Schmucks” is good, but only in Short Bursts

Posted on July 30 2010 8:00 am

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We all have people we think of when we hear the word “schmuck.” If you don’t, take a second and remember your last trip to the mall, Wal-Mart, or local pub. If you still can’t think of the last schmuck you saw, you might be one. Usually when we see people that remind us that Napoleon Dynamite might not be an exaggeration, we just laugh to ourselves or ignore them completely. Some people, however, take this a step further.

Dinner for Schmucks is based on the 1998 French comedy Le Dinner de Cons (The Dinner Game) and directed by Jay Roach (from Austin Powers and Meet the Parents films). What we get is a spin on the bromance comedy that has gained steam in recent years. Paul Rudd is a good comedic actor and always had a likable screen presence (dating back to the Overnight Delivery days). In addition, Steve Carell has remained strong both in television and the big screen (no easy feat) over the years. So, do we dare see another bromance at the local multiplex? Sure, why not?

Tim (Paul Rudd) has a good job, nice apartment and beautiful girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), who won’t quite marry him. One day an opportunity arises at work when one of Tim’s higher-level colleagues is fired. Tim decides to take the initiative for the company by engaging a cash-cow businessman from Switzerland who happens to be in town. Tim’s decision to pursue a major potential client gets him invited to a regular dinner where the top executives invite the dumbest guest they can find. The “Dinner for Winners” is really a formal event disguised as an idiot contest.

While not knowing exactly how to handle the new found recognition from his boss, Tim is driving his Porsche when a man steps out in front of him. This is how we meet Barry (Steve Carell), who was trying to save a dead mouse from being squished by oncoming traffic when Tim struck him. When Barry awkwardly offered Tim money to not mention this situation to anyone (the offer went from $5-10,000 in short order), Tim knew he might have found his dinner date.

As soon as Barry began to show off his collection of masterpiece paintings with people replaced with mice, Tim knew he had found his schmuck. However, Barry show’s up a day early for the dinner, constantly insisting that “I think it’s tonight.” After being advised to come back the next day when the actual dinner is, Barry kept finding ways to stick around. It all hits the fan when he got onto Tim’s computer and replied to a stalker in an instant message, inviting her over.

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