Aug 032010
Authors: Jason Berlinberg

_I would like to start out by saying that I love Steve Carell. He is absolutely hilarious, and I am an avid fan of his show “The Office.”

Carell’s manifestation of sheer stupidity and ignorance in the form of Michael Scott is one of the funniest performances going these days, in my book.

Given Carell’s proven comedic prowess when playing an idiot, it seems that he would fit perfectly playing another bumbling buffoon. Unfortunately, something gets lost in the translation.

In “Dinner For Schmucks” Paul Rudd stars as Tim Conrad, a businessman looking to work his way up at an equity firm. He gets his chance when his boss invites him to a monthly dinner where the big shots bring idiots as guests only to make fun of them.

At first Tim turns down the offer, until he hits Carell’s character, Barry Speck, with his car.

Quickly after their fated encounter, Tim realizes that Barry is … different. His chosen talent is to collect dead mice and place them in detailed dioramas of historical events. He’s an IRS agent by day and an amateur taxidermist by night.

Believing that he has found the perfect schmuck, Tim invites Barry to the aforementioned dinner with the hopes of impressing his boss.

Despite a duo as talented as Rudd and Carell, there is a noticeable lack of chemistry between the two. This is because Carell is tasked with pulling the entirety of the comedic weight. I’m not sure why Rudd was confined within the role of an “average Joe,” but his scenes with Carell certainly feel like they are missing something.

The other major source of jokes comes from Jermaine Clement, most known for his involvement in “Flight of the Conchords.” He plays an off-the-wall artist with an “affinity for animals.” Enjoy his scenes; that is all I will say.

Surprisingly, the titular highlight of the film doesn’t pack much of a comedic punch and drags on way too long. The movie’s attempt to walk the thin moral line between making fun of the “schmucks” and creating pity for them falls flat on its face.

For the most part the comedy is tasteless, and other than some big laughs thanks to Carell and Clement this is a dinner that I’d like to forget.

Movie reviewer Jason Berlinberg can be reached at

 Posted by at 3:49 pm

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