‘Dinner for Schmucks’ Preview Review

Monday, July 19, 2010
By Kevin Crossman

The following review comes from Jeff Bingham and may contain mild spoilers. - Ed.

Steve Carell and Paul Rudd

Steve Carell and Paul Rudd

I caught a free advanced screening in Boston about two weeks ago. I like the cast involved, but I was unsure if I wanted to pay to see it because I did not like the trailers. I wasn’t really sold on the premise on the film. The idea of rich corporate snobs inviting idiots to dinner to make fun of them seemed a bit mean-spirited and not very relatable. Additionally, I thought Steve Carell’s character came off as a highly exaggerated version of Michael Scott and I didn’t think of that as a good thing.

After seeing the film, I was pleasantly surprised that it was funnier than the trailers made it out to be and not as mean-spirited. However, I would not call it this year’s Hangover as there were certain flaws that kept it from reaching those heights for me.

Carell and his Mice

Carell and his Mice

As for the things I liked, the dioramas of taxidermied mice were pretty inspired. Jermaine Clement looked like a Russell Brand knockoff, but he was arguably the most consistently funny character in the film. The dinner sequence is definitely the funniest sequence in the movie, but it’s unfortunate that Clement wasn’t a part of it.

Carell was hit-or-miss with me. His behavior was amusing to start off with, but his routine got stale after a while. However, some of the things he says or does throughout the movie get some big laughs. I had similar feelings about Zach Galifianakis on a smaller scale. His character was funny to start off with, but the joke of him playing a self-believed psychic got tiresome and he plays it deadpan for the most of it, so it didn’t seem that interesting to me.

As for what I didn’t like, the movie was nearly two hours long and the pacing is slower than most comedies I’ve seen as of late, which leads to a fair number of dull spots in the scenes before the dinner, which I think was in the last half hour.

And I like Paul Rudd, but his straight man role here isn’t as interesting as it was in Role Models or I Love You, Man. In Role Models, he was the straight man who was a pessimist. In I Love You, Man, he was the straight man who had some socially awkward tendencies around men. Here, he’s merely a straight man who’s trying to get a promotion and it isn’t as interesting. Additionally, Carell is so outrageous in the movie that when Rudd meets him, he seems to take a backseat to his craziness. It might just be a fault of the script that doesn’t allow him to go head-to-head with Carell.

Speaking of the script, it didn’t feel like it left room for much improvisation. There were some moments of it, but most of the movie felt scripted and it dragged it down for me. That sense of the actors having fun improvising like they did in I Love You, Man didn’t seem to be here.

All in all, it was a funny movie, but it felt like a one-and-done deal to me. This isn’t to say others will feel the same as me, although I don’t think it will have the same repeat value of The Hangover. If you like the kind of character Carell plays, then take this review with a big grain of salt because this movie would be perfect for you.

Rating: 2.5 / 4 stars

Jeff Bingham

Thanks for the review Jeff!

3 Responses to “‘Dinner for Schmucks’ Preview Review”

  1. ASFan

    When I’m reading my own review, I’m seeing how amateurishly written it is.

  2. Mario

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, man. It does the job of informing without giving away, and of managing expectations both for people who are super into it, and for people who are not so much. You did a good job.

  3. ASFan

    Thanks. I put it together right after Kevin emailed me requesting a review, which was right before I went to bed, so it was kinda rushed.

    At least I was fair and not too harsh. And after looking at these pics of Carell giving his innocent, if goofy, smile, I’m glad I wasn’t too harsh.


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