Dinner for Schmucks
After seeing the final film, I want to put strychnine in the guacamole.

Theatrical Release Date: 07/30/2010
Director: Jay Roach
Cast: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Jemaine Clement, Stephanie Szostak, Lucy Punch, Bruce Greenwood, David Walliams, Ron Livingston

Comedy is such a subjective genre; One man’s “Caddyshack” is another’s “Freddy Got Fingered”. I’ve been saying that for years and, once again, it holds true for “Dinner for Schmucks”. A remake of the 1998 French film, “The Dinner Game”, the premise is for a bunch of snobs to invite idiots to supper – in hopes of gaining bragging rights for finding the biggest freak show.

The American version, from “Austin Powers” director Jay Roach, fills the cast list with comedic actors like Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Jemaine Clement, David Walliams and Ron Livingston. The screening audience laughed early and often. The art department did a fantastic job of posing, clothing and styling texidermied mice to bring one of the character’s hobbies to life (this was the element of the film that worked best).

Still, I can say without any exaggeration or hyperbole: I didn’t laugh once. From the opening moments, Rudd’s personal and business issues were of no concern to me. All of the jokes were telegraphed and fell flat. The over the top situations that develop from having buffoons foil all of Rudd’s best laid plans are repetitive and frustrating.

It felt like Roach and the cast were begging for laughs, hoping the contrived setups would work, as opposed to just letting the comedy come from things being funny over the course of a story. All of it became an exercise in patience as I waited for the lights to come up so I could go home, made especially disturbing because I am such an avid fan of Rudd’s and it’s nice to see him get larger roles when normally, he consigned to stealing scenes from other actors.

I’m sure there are many people who will disagree with me and find their time spent well worth it. That’s fine. However, whereas I could easily recommend something like “The Hangover” or “Hot Tub Time Machine“, I’d advise skipping this (at least in theaters) and maybe giving it a chance when it hits the cable TV market if you’re interested. “Dinner for Schmucks” felt like a very poor attempt to mimic one of Neil LaBute’s earlier films and I can only muster up a 1 out of 5 for it … that entire ratings point being attributed to dead mice artfully groomed and articulated. Take that for what you will.