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Not Even Carell & Rudd Can Cook Up A Good “Dinner For Schmucks”

This poster is better than the movie.

Leave it to Jay Roach to make it tough to watch Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. I was really, really hoping that Roach could put aside his insatiable desire to make a movie in which each scene gets progressively more painful to watch. Alas, just like the horrendous “Meet The Parents” movies, he finds a way to take some incredibly talented actors and put them in situations that make you dislike them. Who else could make you say to yourself, “Man, Steve Carell is annoying me.

Actually, Carell is supposed to be annoying, as his character, Barry, is the lead schmuck of the flick. So it was safe to assume going into the movie that Carell would be approaching Brick-like levels of stupidity. In a rare instance of playing the straight man, Paul Rudd gets saddled with simply reacting to Carell’s silliness.

Of course, the entire premise of the movie is built on a fairly insane idea. Paul Rudd’s Tim is trying to move up in his ambiguous corporate structure and is invited by his big shot boss (Bruce Greenwood) to his monthly dinner. Each invitee is expected to bring an idiot to dinner with them. Enter Barry, who Tim meets by running into him with his Porsche. Barry has bad teeth, bad hair, and he likes to recreate famous works of art with stuffed mice. Funny stuff right? Seems like a pretty good setup for some laughs.

Yes, there are some laughs. Most of which come from Barry saying something ridiculous and Tim sarcastically mocking it, with Barry not realizing he is being mocked. Unfortunately, there are also the typical Roach-directed moments. You know, those scenes in which the annoyance levels get cranked up by the second. There’s easily a ten to fifteen minutes span in which I tuned out, my eyes rolled back in my head, and I considered having to go to the restroom even though I didn’t.

The saddest thing about “Dinner For Schmucks”? It completely wastes Zach Galifianakis. Don’t be fooled into thinking he’s a big player in this movie, he’s only in two scenes. The first one is pretty funny, but only because it allows Galifianakis to show how big of a whacko he can be. Personally, I find him much better in “Bored To Death”. It’s hard to believe, but he’s zanier than he was in “The Hangover”. Once the movie gets to the inevitable idiot dinner, I was hoping he could save it but no, he sure couldn’t. The finale just drags on and on, until the inevitable moment when Rudd’s Tim finally realizes that Barry isn’t an idiot at all. In fact, they are the best of friends. Of course this is total bulsh, as they couldn’t be more different.

Oddly enough, Jemaine Clement kind of steals the movie. He’s a pretentious performance artist and he could have gone right over the top and put this loudly annoying movie onto a new level of brutality, but he is low-key, soft spoken and quietly hilarious. He’s essentially playing an oversexed version of his part in the awful “Gentleman Broncos” and if anything, this part should show that he needs to get his own starring role.

The Keanu

The only thing that makes “Dinner For Schmucks” watchable at all are Carell and Rudd. Originally, this was supposed to be Sasha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell, which probably makes this movie unbelievably terrible. Those two seem to go for annoyance immediately, where as Carell and Rudd seem to be more inherently likable. They can get away with being jerks, whereas those other two just, well, seem like jerks.

This is the third movie that Carell and Rudd have starred in together. Here’s hoping the fourth one is an improvement…or an “Anchorman” sequel.

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