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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Paul Rudd
Steve Carell
Stephanie Szostak
Jemaine Clement
Zach Galifianakis
Lucy Punch.
Directors
Jay Roach.
Screenwriters
David Guion
Michael Handelman.
Running Time
110 minutes

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Dinner For Schmucks
More Little Chef than Michelin stars


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Plot
Angling for a promotion, executive Tim Wagner (Rudd) agrees to bring a weirdo loser to his boss’ “dinner for winners”, where a prize is offered for the biggest oddball. Tim’s conflicted until he (literally) runs into Barry (Carell), a hapless tax agent who creates artwork with dead mice…


Review
Dinner For Schmucks
There's an inherent danger with appropriating movies such as Francis Veber’s much-admired comedy Le Dîner De Cons and trying to make them work for other audiences. But you’d think with Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and director Jay Roach attached, the results would be fresher -— and funnier — than what’s on the menu with Dinner For Schmucks.

Despite Rudd and Carell making every effort, and generating real chemistry, the script lets them down badly with ridiculously broad slapstick that never rings true. Barry’s (Carell) impact on Tim’s (Rudd) life is chaotic but not always entertaining, and while signposted marital woes provide Carell with some juicy fodder to invest real feeling into, the comedy is patchy at best; though Barry’s rodent creations are a strong source of laughs. Rudd, meanwhile, strains to keep Tim from looking smug and calculating, losing much of his usual everyman charm in the process. That wouldn’t be so much of a problem if Roach wasn’t intent on making sure we know the true meaning of friendship. While digging for a forced moral message about appreciating people for who they truly are, no matter how odd they seem, Roach deflates much of the caustic appeal. He appears to be slumming it, with little of the snap and crackle of the first Meet The Parents or Austin Powers’ all-or-nothing lunacy.

The movie’s one big switch is to show the dinner itself (Veber chose the build-up and the chaos over the big finish), and despite a wealth of comedy talent from across the spectrum (David Walliams, Kristen Schaal, US ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd), only a few of the supporting cast get room to shine. The Flight Of The Conchords’ Jemaine Clement brings scary hairiness and Zen-like quality to painter Kieran Vollard, who plays a rival for Tim’s girlfriend’s (Stephanie Szostak) affections, while Zach Galifianakis is his usual loopy self as Barry’s mind-controlling (and wife-stealing) boss. Lucy Punch steals several scenes as Tim’s daffy stalker, Darla. Everyone else, especially the likes of Bruce Greenwood and Ron Livingston, are sidelined to largely reactionary roles in a real waste of decent actors.

Schmucks is better than some recent so-called comedies, but saddled with its faults and a plot that crams too much into one storyline, it suffers from a lack of focus and a painful need to deliver something that can compete with the original, a standard it never quite lives up to.


Verdict
Hardly a classic given the talents of Carell, Rudd and Roach at his best. It bungles utilising plenty of talent in a lightweight comedy effort that brings little fresh to the table.


Reviewed by William Thomas

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Dinner For Schmucks
Empire Star Rating

RE: Dinner For Schmucks

Watch it once never again. Didn't really make me laugh at all and I really like Paul Rudd one of his bad films ... More

Posted by Stringfellowfilms at 19:32, 06 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Is Empire losing it?

This film took the p/ss out of one of my favourite foriegn films/comedies,for that reason Dinner For Schmucks can go to hell ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 11:07, 05 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Is Empire losing it?

An vablymedy, considering what was on offer here! Rudd and Carrell in possibly their most laboured and missed-the-mark roles, dull and tedious story that never develops the premise...this was so boring and unfunny that I can't even begin to think what went wrong, although it possibly has something to do with a total lack of wit and humour and any sort of joke. The fat one from The Hangover turns up and brings an already grating film to an even lower level of "who cares, and when will ... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 10:52, 05 March 2012 | Report This Post


Is Empire losing it?

I avoided this film at the cinema due to Empire's review (andas a poor student, I use Empire to decide which films are worth my money to see), and finally watched it on dvd. It was actually really good and I was gutted I didn't see it sooner. In the past couple of years I've found I'm disagreeing with Empire more and more...either theyve hired some rubbish reviewers or my judgement is getting worse! Steve Carell gets pigeon-holed to one character and although this one was similar he managed t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by flyaninnocentlife at 20:38, 02 April 2011 | Report This Post


4 Star Loved It

Great Comedy Acting, Loved EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ryanchallenger at 18:06, 26 March 2011 | Report This Post


4 Star Loved It

Great Comedy Acting, Loved EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ryanchallenger at 18:06, 26 March 2011 | Report This Post


Funny In Places But Instanly Forgettable.

The only people that scene stealed were David Wailliams, Steve Carell and Alan (can't spell his name properly). Paul Rudd is more or less the same guy he plays in every movie, has the pretty girlfriend with a few misunderstandings and always looks a little wooden. There are some funny moments in places, though really it's instantly forgettable once the creidts roll. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 12:15, 16 January 2011 | Report This Post


Funny In Places But Instanly Forgettable.

The only people that scene stealed were David Wailliams, Steve Carell and Alan (can't spell his name properly). Paul Rudd is more or less the same guy he plays in every movie, has the pretty girlfriend with a few misunderstandings and always looks a little wooden. There are some funny moments in places, though really it's instantly forgettable once the creidts roll. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 12:15, 16 January 2011 | Report This Post


Dinner For Schmucks: Fantastically Stupid!

What a great film! I know its awful if you compare it to the likes of Inception or the other big blockbusters of the summer but compared to Roach's other films such as Austin Powers it was brilliant, I thought Carell was outstanding portraying his character. Overall I thought the film had a great idea but did not pull it off completely successfully but is a great film to sit and watch on a Friday night or any night. My kind of humour, cheesy and slapstick! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LUCASLITTLEWOOD at 09:06, 23 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

Just two points on the US Office, the central idea of the British show traslates because people who work in that sort of Office in American have the same sort of problems and lives so it is a univesial theme in many ways.   Also if they had tried to copy the style, and charcters of the organgal then it would have fell flat on it face, but it was smart enough to do its own thing while playing homage to the UK one, and that is why it has sustained.  Agreed Gervais does have his fin... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 16:58, 12 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

Very average. Has some genuinely funny moments, but would have really benefited from being a good 30 minutes shorter. The whole stalker sub plot should have dropped as that felt like a complete waste of time. It seems that everyone in the screen was in stitches. I wish I was as easily amused. Barely scrapes 3 stars from me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by juanvasquez at 23:22, 11 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

No,i didn't say it was shit,but that doesn't stop some people.t is the stand out Gervais character and performance.I simply don't think the humour is that good when Americanised-and before i'm accused of being anti-American comedy,i'm just talking about this show.There are countless well-written and delivered American comedy shows. But it still isn't terrible! As for Carrell,i agree he needs those darker edgy roles-problem is there's a huge market in the States for the kind of films he does... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 09:04, 09 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

To be fair he never said it was shit, just not as good as the British.   My take on Carell is that he works better in darker comdies, or at least playing bleaker characters, this is proven in things like Little Miss Sunshine and as Michael Scott in the Office.  Trouble is hollywood fail to reliase this and just keep casting him as grotisque oddballs. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 01:11, 09 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

L: BOHEMIANBOB L: ElephantBoy Yes and chances are one of the reasons it was not terrible was due to Carrell's involvment, do you really not rate him, I think you are letting your views on some of his films cloud your judgement. And yes read the Office US thread in the tv section to see that many people on here love it.  To me its become a little too easy just to write it off as a infarior follow up.  What is it you don't like about it by the way. on the Office,i prefer th... More

Posted by vad3r at 22:26, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

edited. ... More

Posted by vad3r at 22:25, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

L: ElephantBoy Yes and chances are one of the reasons it was not terrible was due to Carrell's involvment, do you really not rate him, I think you are letting your views on some of his films cloud your judgement. And yes read the Office US thread in the tv section to see that many people on here love it.  To me its become a little too easy just to write it off as a infarior follow up.  What is it you don't like about it by the way. on the Office,i prefer the original,i thought ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 21:50, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

This was ok, but not as funny as it could or should have been given the talent involved. A few scenes hit the spot, but the laughs aren't as frequent as you'd expect. 3 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by skeletonjack at 19:44, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

Yes and chances are one of the reasons it was not terrible was due to Carrell's involvment, do you really not rate him, I think you are letting your views on some of his films cloud your judgement.   And yes read the Office US thread in the tv section to see that many people on here love it.  To me its become a little too easy just to write it off as a infarior follow up.  What is it you don't like about it by the way. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 01:18, 08 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

I said it wasn't terribleAmerican Office-please tell me you're joking. Or Carell's number one fan ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 23:55, 07 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

But the weakiness in Date Night have nothing to do with Carell and Fey, their to do with the director and the inconsisticy of the jokes.  I define anyone to say that Fey and Carell are not funny and charming in that film.  Infact its a credit to them that some of the weaker gags are made better by their delivery.   And get with the times, a lot of people who love the British Office now consider the US version just as good if not better, it is a great comedy, end of ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 14:59, 07 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

L: ElephantBoy Your wrong about Carell as he is the lead character is the American Office and also along with Tina Fey in Date Night and manges to pull both off.  The problem is hollywood keeps miscasting him as a weirdo. I suspect you might be right about the film itself though. s,not Tina Fey here tooAmerican Office is nowhere near as good as the original. Date night was like this,not terrible but not good. ... More

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 22:50, 06 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

Your wrong about Carell as he is the lead character is the American Office and also along with Tina Fey in Date Night and manges to pull both off.  The problem is hollywood keeps miscasting him as a weirdo.   I suspect you might be right about the film itself though. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 01:51, 06 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

Dear Lord! Sloppy,poorly directed and geuinely 2 stars(not as poor as a Sandler film). The 2 leads simply cannot lead a film.Carrell,like Cera,needs to be the number 2 or 3 actor in a film. He and Rudd share the lead,and they simply cannot bounce off each other in any really funny way. Not utter bilge,but would advise only on a DVD.On a Monday. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BOHEMIANBOB at 16:18, 05 September 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

I don't think Rudd has aged that well to be fair. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 17:45, 31 August 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Absolutely worth a watch, hilarious

It was OK not as good as I was expecting Rudd just seemed to be along for the ride especially for someone with his comedic background & record not enough laughs considering the talent on show.  3/5 Barely. ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 13:30, 31 August 2010 | Report This Post


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