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For Eccentric Mouse Lovers, and Perhaps a Few Others

Movie Review: Dinner for Schmucks (2010)
Spoilers: none

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Paul Rudd and Steve Carell star in Dinner for Schmucks.

Motioning each swing of a golf club with the other investors in the office, a group of business execs get ready for their yearly dinner where each successful member brings the biggest idiot they can find. When Tim (Rudd) literally runs into Barry (Carell) on the street in his car, the advantageous businessman realizes he has found the perfect candidate in his newly befriended mouse taxidermist.

A justifiably invested Steve Carell and sly but always assertive Paul Rudd do a tremendous job in this eccentrically-minded movie that is supposed to highlight the values of friendship and where to find it. But with its cast consisting of a role-playing, sexscapading scorned lover, a computer geek mind reader, and big business snots who will sell each other out for a small bonus, the potential for a good movie quickly gets kicked to the curb despite many chances to redeem itself at a host of intervals.

At no point does Dinner for Schmucks climb over the wall to being memorably funny, though it will sometimes draw out an unprepared-for eruption of chuckles. The hammy characters, with their exaggerated quirks, are a bit much while providing far too little laughter in return. The funniest performance by far is from comedian Zach Galifianakis ("Alan Garner" from The Hangover) as he plays mentally insane IRS auditor, Therman, who thinks he can control minds.

The twofold message of choosing friends wisely and standing up for your principles may be commendable, but the film's getting there is a long and winding road of funny, not so funny, and always incredibly bizarre while you know where things are headed before they get there.

By the end, you don't want to see any one of these once charming performers who deserved a better script in this insufficiently humorous retreat into partial risque-ism and over-the-top idiocy. 2 stars for the creatively inspiring, but dynamically dim and disappointing, Dinner for Schmucks.

(JH)

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Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG-13 (for graphic language and adult situations)
Director: Jay Roach
Summary: A rising executive befriends a man who would be the perfect guest at a dinner for idiots.
Starring: Steve Carell "Barry," Paul Rudd "Tim," Zach Galifianakis "Therman," Jemaine Clement "Kieran," Stephanie Szostak "Julie," Lucy Punch "Darla," Bruce Greenwood "Lance Fender"
Genre: Comedy
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