Clearly there’s little Steve Carell can’t do. The unctuous boss on The Office who won our hearts as the over-ripe Virgin plays it stupid, really stupid, in the new comedy Dinner for Schmucks.
Dinner for Schmucks is a remake of Francis Veber's much livelier French farce from the 1990s titled The Dinner Game (Le dîner de cons), and it's no surprise that the American version is so bloated and dumbed-down compared to its more sophisticated foreign-language cousin. Director Jay Roach, working with an anemic adapted screenplay by David Guion and Michael Handelman, turns the whole dinner element of the plot into more of a freak show competition (one guest channels the souls of dead pets, another is a blind swordsman) than the original film's more scathing exercise in intellectual mockery.
I keep coming back to the word uncomfortable when trying to describe Dinner for Schmucks. Barry turns into a stalker, breaks up Tim's relationship with his girlfriend, and allows a psycho one-night-stand lady to re-enter Tim's life. Tim meanwhile takes advantage of Barry's clinging ways and means to set him up as an object of ridicule. And all this goes down without the benefit of clever writing or set-ups.
The best part of Dinner for Schmucks are the incredibly complex mouse dioramas which are simply stunning. The stories they tell are moving and the amount of work put into each piece is impressive. Too bad the same can't be said about the rest of the film.
Skip this Dinner as it'll leave you with a bad aftertaste. If you're hungry for something funny, this isn't the satisfying meal you're looking for.
SRi:Unless you're a hard-core Carell fan, this is one "Dinner" reservation I'd consider canceling.