Paul Rudd and Steve Carell are at it again, only this time they’ve invited comedy Director Jay Roach for a little French farce in their latest conquest “Dinner for Schmucks.” If history tells us anything, it would say that “Schmucks” should be a home run for all the talent it’s packing, yet I’ve never seen this bevy of talent swim this deep in the unfunny pool, which is probably why the film felt like more of an insult than a comedy.
The film is inspired and loosely based on the French film “Le Diner de cons” (”The Dinner Game”), in which each guest at a dinner party is required to bring an idiot to dinner to amuse each other and make fun of the “less than intelligent” guests. This is basically where the similarities between the French film and “Schmucks” begins and ends.
Instead, in ”Schmucks”, we meet Tim (Paul Rudd). The too normal guy who works at Fender Financial and is desperate to climb the corporate ladder so he can procure the executive salary and marry his girlfriend (Stephanie Szostak). The only catch is, in order to impress his boss (Bruce Greenwood) and get the sparkly new office on the upper floor; he has to bring a class A idiot to his dinner party, where a trophy is bestowed for the best idiot act of the evening.
Enter Barry Feck (Steve Carell), IRS employee and class A idiot, who conveniently walks into Tim’s car on his drive home.
Quickly realizing his find, Tim invites the mentally challenged stranger to dinner and goes on his merry way. Yet, somehow Barry lands on Tim’s doorstep a day early for dinner and manages to invite his ex to come over and proceeds to tell Tim’s girlfriend about it. This catalyst sets up the rest of the film in what can only be described as a series of Barry fuckups and accidents, which moves the plot along as the two pair up to win Tim’s girlfriend back and ultimately go to dinner.
“Schmucks” brings the premise to a tepid temperature compared to its original French counterpart but also manages to squeeze in a little more heart with it, which is its only saving grace besides casting Steve Carell. Unfortunately, neither Carell or heart could save this script, which was written with such a bland lead character, Tim and thrives on the notion that incessant mishaps replaces the need for a storyline.
Que puis- je dire de plus, quiconque mange?
(That’s right, I know French. Or I used “google” translator. You decide.)