Dinner For Schmucks


Of mice (great) and men (not so much)...

Dinner for Schmucks

Dinner For Schmucks review - Who’s the schmuck in Jay Roach’s Americanisation of Le Dîner De Cons?

Paul Rudd’s Tim, an ambitious financier keen to curry favour with boss Bruce Greenwood? Steve Carell’s Barry, the social misfit Tim invites to Greenwood’s monthly bring-a-buffoon soirée? Or the humble punter who trots along to this re-do of a decade-old French farce expecting it to be consistently funny?

Rewiring a Gallic romp for the mainstream didn’t work for Wild Target and it doesn’t work here, despite Carell’s tireless mugging and a cast of international comedic talent (Zach The Hangover Galifianakis, David Little Britain Walliams).

That is partly due to a failure of nerve, co-writers David Guion and Michael Handelman balking at making Rudd as repellent or Carell as doltish as their Gallic counterparts. But it’s also down to a change in sensibility, as Roach opts to ramp up the slapstick instead of keeping faith with the 1998 version’s acerbic linguistic wit.

Which would be fine if the pratfalls were amusing and the awkward situations Barry places Tim in delivered on their initial promise.
Sadly, our time in their company is spent vainly searching for a chuckle, their frantic encounters with Clement’s self-loving artist or Lucy Punch’s psycho-vamp running out of steam almost before they begin.

Things pick up a bit in time for the titular banquet, a set-piece Francis Veber’s picture omitted. But by declining to embrace the essential meanspiritedness at the heart of his story, Roach serves up a bland starter that leaves you salivating for an entrée that never arrives.

Still, in one department, his movie deserves a Michelin star – the elaborate dioramas Carell’s character fashions from stuffed mice decked out in fetching miniature costumes.

Modelled on the likes of Da Vinci’s Last Supper and Whistler’s Mother, these marvellous “mouse-terpieces” are hilarious, endearing and a little bit disturbing. Everything that Dinner For Schmucks should be but isn’t.


It wasn’t going to be Anchorman 2 but we still expected more from Brick Tamland’s reunion with Brian Fantana. Time to say non, merci to remakes of superior French originals?

Film Details

User Reviews

    • HM3600

      Sep 8th 2010, 21:06


      I came into the cinema expecting laugh out loud humour, churned out after every couple of minutes at least. Unfortunately, I only let out a chuckle once or twice throughout this flavourless flick. Although Rudd and Carell were likeable enough in their roles, they are let down by a very mediocre script that doesn’t give them much to work, especially in the humour department. The dialogue could have been witty, rather than relying too much on the scenarios and sex themes that didn’t have much punch to them. Speaking of the latter, the dinner scene towards the end was more uncomfortable than funny, especially when one of the ‘freaks’ humiliates Barry (Carrell) as the onlookers laugh on. It made for a very cringe-worthy watch, which is probably down to Barry being too innocent and harmless to laugh at. I give the film some credit for showing some character development on Tim’s (Rudd) part. No, there was no development in the supporting characters, but then this is Tim’s story not theirs. However, the supporting characters would have been more likeable and memorable if they contributed to the humour or were hilarious enough, and quite frankly, they were neither. But what lets the film down the most was the fact that the moral message on real friendship was far too sentimentally delivered for a comedy movie. But I do give kudos to the ‘mouse-terpieces’. The doll-like costumes and the beautifully made set pieces were highly impressive. In fact, does it make me a ‘freak’ that I found these deceased, dressed up mice cute, rather than disturbing?

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