Blu-Ray Review: Mediocre ‘Dinner For Schmucks’ With Paul Rudd, Steve Carell

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CHICAGO – “Dinner For Schmucks” proves that casting does not make a comedy. Steve Carell and Paul Rudd are easily two of the funniest people alive. They have perfect comic timing. Although you’d never know it from watching them go through the unfunny motions in this lackluster effort. Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.0/5.0

It’s mostly not their fault. No, that can be clearly placed at the feet of director Jay Roach and writers David Guion & Michael Handelman. The scribes crafted an unfunny slice of cruelty masquerading as black comedy and the director shot it all with all the energy of an episode of “Rules of Engagement.” Instead of crafting a piece that uses everyone’s strengths together, Rudd’s everyman realism, Carell’s nearly-Vaudevillian performance, and Roach’s pedestrian direction never come together into one dish that you’d want to eat.

Dinner For Schmucks was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 4th, 2011.
Dinner For Schmucks was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 4th, 2011.
Photo credit: DreamWorks Home Video

Dinner For Schmucks was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 4th, 2011.
Dinner For Schmucks was released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 4th, 2011.
Photo credit: DreamWorks Home Video

Tim (Paul Rudd) has been stepped on a few too many times by people climbing above him on the corporate ladder. He sees an opportunity to do the stepping when one of his co-workers is fired and he sees a chance to finally close the deal with a wealthy businessman (David Walliams) and impressive his obnoxiously self-righteous boss (Bruce Greenwood).

To Tim’s initial surprise, he learns that there is what is essentially a superiority hazing event to get into this boy’s club. His boss and potential future colleagues host a regular dinner in which each of the “normal” guests tries to one-up one another by bringing an “abnormal” one with them. The more remarkable the idiot, the higher the esteem and status at the company. The chance for commentary is certainly here in the idea that men never really leave the fraternity mindset in which the jock ridicules the nerd, but “Dinner For Schmucks” never even tries for social satire, unwisely choosing wacky behavior over anything intelligent.

After his beautiful girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) is understandably aghast at the entire concept of the dinner, Tim decides not to attend, but fate has a different idea in mind when he literally runs into Barry (Steve Carell). The awkward loner appears to be the Holy Grail of Schmuck-searching. He’s awkward, sometimes creepy, and spends most of his time putting dead rats into increasingly-bizarre dioramas. Julia runs off into the arms of an eccentric artist (Jemaine Clement) and the film climaxes in the titular dinner that promises hilarity but falls as flat as a burned souffle.

He’s made a mint in the world of comedy (“Meet the Fockers,” “Austin Powers”) but Jay Roach’s best film was the one in which he stuck closest to reality — HBO’s “Recount.” His big-screen comedies succeeded because of the larger-than-life personalities at their center like Mike Myers and Robert De Niro. Paul Rudd and Steve Carell try to join that club but they’re constantly pulled back by a script that seems randomly cobbled together. The broad humor of the dinner becomes numbing as each “wacky character” tries to do something crazier in every scene and almost none of it is funny. Stand-out co-stars Lucy Punch and Clement make it out with a joke or two, but they can’t save a bland, boring meal.

Special Features:
o The Biggest Schmucks in the World
o Deleted Scenes
o The Men Behind the Mousterpieces
o Outtakes Reel
o And More!

“Dinner For Schmucks” stars Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Jemaine Clement, Stephanie Szostak, Lucy Punch, Bruce Greenwood, Ron Livingston, and Zach Galifianakis. It was written by David Guion & Michael Handelman and directed by Jay Roach. It is rated PG-13 and runs 114 minutes. content director Brian Tallerico

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