Eat Play Dumb 

Dinner for Schmucks for dummies.


Dinner for Schmucks is a near-hit. A remake of Francis Veber's The Dinner Game, it stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd in a roundabout comedic takedown of corporate excess that has a strong start, a strong end, and a middling middle. It has a likable, effective ensemble cast and a premise that should but doesn't make for a successful film. In other words, Dinner for Schmucks is a miss.

Tim (Rudd) is a mid-level suit in climber mode at Fender Financial, a company that deals in money by the tens of millions. Tim's good at his job, and he looks for an angle to catch the eye of his boss (Bruce Greenwood). Tim's assistant (Kristen Schaal), desperate to make the leap with him upstairs in a package deal, prods Tim to be aggressive in the boardroom. And if he tries and fails? He'll be promptly shuffled off the corporate coil.

The bossman invites Tim to a special event he hosts regularly, where, essentially, all the company bigwigs invite idiots to dinner and make fun of them. The setup promises a worthy update of Office Space, post-Wall Street meltdown and bonus shenanigans — and, hey, there's the Office Space guy (Ron Livingston) as a rival executive. Tim better bring a quality doofus to the show, or else he's got no hope of succeeding in this Darwinian world of the bored privileged.

Tim's art-gallery-owner girlfriend (Stephanie Szostak) is not amused. But fate hands him the perfect idiot: Barry (Carell), a clueless dip who taxidermies mice and dresses them up and places them into cute vignettes that represent a perfect world. What to do?

From here until the climax, Dinner for Schmucks devolves into a comedy of errors, as Barry makes a merry mess of Tim's life. Side-plot characters include Darla, a one-night-stand-turned-stalker from Tim's past (Lucy Punch); Therman, Barry's co-worker who is now married to his ex-wife (Zach Galifianakis); and Kieran, the eccentric, self-involved artist who lusts for Tim's girlfriend (Jemaine Clement).

It's all a long-winded distraction — funny, even hilarious, sometimes — from what felt like the main point, and the film develops an undesirable tension of waiting for the long-delayed titular event.

Dinner for Schmucks finally gets there and regains its humorous zip even as it reveals that it never had anything going on deeper down. The wealthy bring in the dummies and laugh at them — and so do we, because they're funny and they do and say dumb things. But by making the audience complicit in the crime, our inherent anger at the situation pffts away as we cackle as Barry and Therman shoot mind bullets at each other. A little comeuppance for the villains can't change that.

The film ends, though, with an utterly charming epilogue that tells what happens next through more of Barry's mouse scenarios. More of that, please.

Now playing

Multiple locations

Dinner for Schmucks
Rated PG-13 · 114 min. · 2010
Official Site:
Director: Jay Roach
Writer: Ken Daurio, David Guion, Michael Handelman, Cinco Paul, Francis Veber and Jon Vitti
Producer: Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes
Cast: Paul Rudd, Steve Carrell, Stephanie Szostak, Jemaine Clement, Zach Galifianakis, Lucy Punch, David Walliams, Ron Livingston, Chris O'Dowd and Andrea Savage


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Dinner for Schmucks


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

    • Unreal Film Festival 2017

      Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Festival Invades Studio On The Square.
    • Logan Lucky

      Steven Soderbergh Roars Out Of Retirement With A Star Studded Heist Film
    • Ingrid Goes West

      Audrey Plaza’s Instagram envy turns toxic in this sharp, entertaining satire.


Beyond the Arc

Grizzlies trade Troy Daniels to Phoenix

Music Blog

Listen Up: Louise Page

News Blog

Suit Targets 'Destructive' Drivers License Policy

Film/TV/Etc. Blog


News Blog

Supreme Court Steps In on Fayette Church Matter

Intermission Impossible

Muhammad Ali Meets Stepin Fetchit at The Hattiloo Theatre

News Blog

Task Force Considers Medical Cannabis


More by Greg Akers

Readers also liked…

© 1996-2017

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation