GENRE: Dark bro-mantic comedy
THE PITCH: A hipper, raunchier remake of the French film The Dinner Game (Le Diner de Cons). Tim (Paul Rudd), an aspiring financial exec accidentally meets Barry (Steve Carell), an odd yet clueless IRS employee and taxidermy enthusiast, and asks him to attend an exclusive dinner where the invitees are mocked and scrutinized by partygoers in order to impress his boss and move up the ladder.
MONEY SHOTS: Barry confronts Therman (Zach Galifianakis), his boss and fellow attendee at the table during dinner. As they engage in a mental throw-down, the odd duel moves away from the table and becomes an invisible battle of wits. As a winner surfaces, the party breaks down and the true nature of the party is revealed. Fifteen minutes of laugh-out-loud-funny slapstick comedy follows.
BEST LINES: "You know how hard it is to get laid smelling like cole slaw? Actually it's not that hard," says Tim's assistant Susana (Kristen Schaal).FURRY FRIENDS: Barry enjoys spending his free time creating dioramas of various settings using his favorite subject - mice. Up-and-coming artist Kieran (Jermaine Clement) has a penchant for animals. Barry and Tim catch Kieran in several compromising situations in beastly costumes and accessories. Kieran also owns a farm where he houses and studies exotic animals for his art. While at the farm, Kieran says to Barry, "Do you know what it's like to stick you hand this far [making hand gesture] up a zebra's vagina?"
WHIP APPEAL: Maybe Tim is compensating for something, but whatever the reason, he's rides in style in his sleek late-model Porsche Carrera. His grounded and pragmatic girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) gets around in a Mini Cooper.
BOTTOM LINE: Veteran director Jay Roach carved a nice niche for himself with over-the-top comedies such as Austin Powers, Meet the Parents and now Schmucks. But Schmucks derails by just going too far - never knowing when to rein in the sheer onslaught of buffoonery. On the plus side, Carell and Rudd seem to fall into their characters so well, there's a sense of familiarity that works for the dense and invasive character created by Carell and the conflicted victim persona created by Rudd.
Although it's a slow build to the climax of the actual meal, Dinner for Schmucks has some genuinely funny moments. It'll either have you either laughing throughout the movie, or checking your watch and waiting for the dinner party to end.