Review: Dinner For Shmucks

Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in Dinner for Shmucks.

Fools Rush In

Dinner for Shmucks (PG-13)

Director: Jay Roach

Starring: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianikis, Stephanie Szostak and Jermaine Clement

Genre: Comedy

Rating: ***

This American version of The Dinner Game (French) appears jovial and high-spirited while banking on Steve Carell to provide enormous amounts of recycled humor. Although the humor is accepted, there are some loose points which make Dinner for Shmucks a recycled adaptation with no more broth remaining. Jay Roach, well known for Mike Myers’ Austin Powers films, uses the short route and attempts to convert melodrama into swanky mush. The scene where a stripper performs her profession is nasty enough to be mushy.

Paul Rudd plays a bored executive who’s promoted to the senior level. However, before things kick off, he must attend a peculiar dinner titled as ‘Dinner for Winners’. He later learns that the original title is ‘Dinner for Idiots’. Here is where he bumps into Steve Carell, an IRS employee and a collector of dead rats. The humor starts ticking and the rat-humor is best explained in the opening credits scene where dead rats in Barbie costumes are used to fill sceneries. The novel idea also explains a flashback in form of a photo album full of rat representations. After looking at a photograph of Nelson Mandela, Carell schematically adds “Look, that’s Morgan Freeman.”Adding drama and humor to the same dish, Roach succeeds in laughter count. However, a few overused moments of melodrama turn Dinner for Shmucks into a well-cooked meal from grandma’s century old recipe.

Those were the times of critical misconception when the comedy genre mixed well with anything – horror, action, romance. These days, comedy-dramas are the antidote for misconceptions. I’d rather watch a comedy-drama rather than an action comedy (The Bounty Hunter for example).  The only time action comedies were considered a favorite were when Jackie Chan was at helm of the affairs. Ever since, comedy-dramas have been ruling the roost.

The film presents a wide range of dialogues promoting optimism. For instance, Barry (Carrel) explains about Vincent Van Gogh “Everyone said to him, ‘you can’t be a great painter, you only have one ear.’ And you know what he said? ‘I can’t hear you.’” The film promotes the uprising of the nerdy, geeky, dorky members and succeeds in creating a wave of sympathy for its characters that you care for them. And yes, Barry meeting ‘Morgan Freeman’ at the end of the film also evokes happy tears.

A comic relief after a dismal Date Night, Steve Carell seemingly becomes the auteur of Dinner For Shmucks. The film also provides a lot of heart and humor.


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