Tim is a rising executive who “succeeds” in finding the perfect guest, IRS employee Barry, for his boss’s monthly event, a so-called “dinner for idiots,” which offers certain advantages to the exec who shows up with the biggest buffoon.
‘Dinner for Schmucks’ comes from director Jay Roach following up previous feature films including ‘Meet the Fockers’, ‘Austin Powers in Gold Member’ and ‘Meet the Parents’. The film opens with a creatively interesting (but unexpected) credit sequence which quickly brings the audience into the feel of Steve Carell’s character. The sequence grabbed my interest as things flowed into introducing Paul Rudd’s character and where he begins in the film.
Early in the film the laughs are spread thin as it is more concerned with setting up events which play out for the remainder of the movie, not offering much in the way of surprises things start to feel predictable very quickly.
Paul Rudd’s character is in a familiar position for a character in a film such as this, Rudd delivers his lines well with good timing and the dry sarcasm that he excels at. I’ve grown to be quite a fan due to his performances in ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ and ‘Role Models’, it’s a shame this time the script didn’t give him some better material to work with.
Steve Carell is in a similar position, his onscreen performance is generally amusing and he manages to keep things entertaining however as the film moves along it doesn’t provide for many stand out funny moments.
This isn’t to say there isn’t any good material in ‘Dinner for Schmucks’, there are certainly some funny and entertaining scenes, particularly in the second half of the film however ultimately I found them to be too few and far between.
The quirkiness to most of the characters gives each of them something different to work with in a fun and silly way, Zach Galifianakis, Jemain Clement and Lucy Punch tend to have some entertaining scenes and give good supporting comedic performances, though none are able to really take the script and deliver much more than some amusing scenes along the way.
The running time is approximately two hours, which to the films credit doesn’t really drag at any stage, the pacing is pretty good, it’s just a shame that the laughs weren’t a bit more regular throughout. As the film moves along things remain mostly formulaic, with the inevitable bumps along the way and predictable sacrifices by the characters with the underlying theme of accepting people for who they are being on display.
Overall ‘Dinner for Schmucks’ provides light entertainment, but felt too formulaic which is easily forgivable with some stand out comedic scenes, unfortunately for me the film didn’t deliver on this side of things as well as I’d hoped.
I’m giving it 2.5 out of 5 stars, it’s released in cinemas Australia wide on Thursday 30th September.