By: Henry J. Fromage (Five Beers) –
Hollywood is out of original ideas. There, I said it. There is all kind of creative fervor outside the studio system, and last time I checked humanity is still chugging along with new ideas, but when Hollywood starts remaking obscure French comedies that nobody seemed to like all that much you know the well is running dry.
I think I see a gritty Thundercats reboot script over there…
Dinner for Schmucks uses the same, not terrible, premise. A company man jockeying for a promotion is told to bring the strangest, saddest person he can find to a dinner where he will be “subtly” ridiculed and compared to all the weirdos everyone else brought. The winner is the one who finds the most bizarre person of all.
Director Jay Roach, also of notorious underwhelmers Meet the Fockers and Goldmember, decides to put all of his chips on ‘odd’. In the case of Jermaine Clement, who plays a swinger photographer with peculiar tastes, it kinda works.
He can do odd
The film does start fairly promising. The opening credits are delightfully unique and our first introduction to protagonist Paul Rudd is in the company of two friends, played by of Nick Kroll of The League and Kristen Schaal of Flight of the Conchords. They get some pretty decent lines in, which is unfortunate because we never see them again.
The rest of the performances are just outlandish (I’m starting to dig deep to find synonyms for weird other than ‘queer’). Beer might help you weather Steve Carrell’s smarmy, too-obvious performance, but I doubt it’ll help with Zach Galafanakis’s one note ode to strange. Rudd’s French girlfriend, played by Stephanie Szostak, shows no chemistry with him, but on the plus side, is pretty hot.
I don’t know how you got on my couch, but make yourself at home
The scriptwriters apparently thought that all of this was enough of a substitute for jokes, because outside of a few bargain-basement laffers they’re not there.
That should be all of the evidence against a comedy that you’d need, but… one of the things the original had going for it was the comeuppance the elitist bosses eventually got. This version takes a ridiculous stab at it, but its edge is ultimately dull and everyone else settles for a hugs all around ending.
Oh hell no.
If you get enough alcohol into them, people will do some strange things. Maybe if you drink enough you’ll understand the people in this movie. Good luck, though, because they don’t conform to any standards of human behavior I’ve ever seen.
The biggest schmuck in the end is you… for sitting through this dreck.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Jermaine Clement does something bizarre
Take a Drink: whenever Zach Galifanakis has a constipated look on his face
Drink a Shot: for every laugh (don’t overstock on the alcohol)