OK, so I wasn't really excited for this movie whatsoever. The trailer was relatively unfunny, and as trailers for comedies tend to use all the best jokes in them, that didn't fare very well. But then I get a text from a friend asking if I wanted to go see this movie. Sure, why not? I've got nothing better to do. And I have to say, this was one bizarre promotional stunt. Not only did they fill the trailer with most of the least funny jokes (which are actually funnier in context), but they didn't really portray the plot very well. Sure, the dinner is involved, but that's the climax of the movie. The rest of the film has very little to do with the dinner at all.

The movie introduces us to Tim (Paul Rudd), a businessman trying to get a promotion. When opportunity strikes, his boss (Bruce Greenwood) and a couple higher-ups (Ron Livingston and Larry Wilmore) invite him to a special secret dinner. Everybody is to invite a guest, and the guest has to be quite an idiot, usually with a bizarre skill. Enter Barry (Steve Carell), a very dim man with a penchant for the taxidermy of mice. After Tim nearly runs Barry over and then realizes his talents, Tim invites Barry to the dinner. This happens against the will of Tim's girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), who walks out mad at him. And things don't get any better when Barry shows up thinking the dinner was that night, not the following, and exacerbates things. Long story short, Tim and Barry spend most of the next 24 hours trying to fix Tim's relationship, but Barry continually makes things worse--such as involving Darla (Lucy Punch), a long-time stalker of Tim's; Therman (Zach Galifianakis), Barry's boss who thinks he can read and control minds; and Kieran (Jamaine Clement), a self-absorbed artist that works with Julie.

This movie is down-right hilarious. I laughed even when other people didn't, mostly because the jokes are a mile a minute and I don't think the audience had time to process them all. The trailer really does show the lesser of the jokes, but most of them are actually funnier within the context of the film. The highlight of the film is not, surprisingly, Zach Galifianakis who--based on the trailer--I thought would steal the show. In fact, the best parts were a mix of Steve Carell and Jamaine Clement. Whenever Jamaine was on screen, he totally owned it. It was very reminiscent of Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, except an artist instead of a rock star. Steve Carell didn't impress me in the trailer, but there is so much the trailer doesn't show. And you might be laughing at him, but you also feel bad for him for some personal issues that he's gone through.

This is where the film has heart. Yes, believe it or not, a movie about making fun of stupid people has heart. You sympathize with these characters and you root for them to actually win while cringing at everything they destroy around them. At times, it reminded me of Dumb and Dumber, which is pretty clear considering you're dealing with a very dim character who just doesn't "get it."

I'm going to keep this one short. If the trailers turned you off from this movie, just go check it out anyway. I went in with pretty low expectations and came out having really enjoyed it. The only negative I really have is the beginning, maybe the first 15 or so minutes. There are some chuckles here and there, but it doesn't start getting good until Steve Carell is introduced. It just takes a while to pick up steam. But I don't laugh that hard very often, and sometimes you wonder if it's the audience laughing that helps spark it. But I can assure you that I was usually one of the first to start laughing. So there you go.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. And that's a pretty strong 'Whoa'.)


  1. I am not especially keen about Dinner for Schmucks...

    But, as I love your blog, I tagged you in a post:



  2. It's doing well enough at the box office and the traffic of people leaving agree with you. I think this could be a sleeper that has a lot of legs over the long run. Trailers are amazing things and I find myself obsessing over them too much, so I am glad when sometimes the trailer actually doesn't cover the heart of the film.

    lazarus lupin
    art and review

  3. Nice review. I think Paul Rudd is one of the best comedy actors in Hollywood at the moment, he's just made some bad film choices. Hopefully, this is the sort of film he should be making on a consistent basis. I will be checking it out.


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