At "Dinner for Schmucks," giggles are on the menu. It's certainly more funny, and less juvenile and mean, than the previews and premise indicate. But while it sends a final message about the cruelty of mocking pitiful weird people, it also executes plenty of such mockery for its comedy.
The movie's centerpiece is a banquet where rich executives ritualistically ridicule eccentric losers, especially "The Office's" Steve Carell, geeked out as a dabbler in rodent taxidermy. That climactic set piece becomes the plot gimmick around which is built yet another bro-mantic comedy starring the solid, affable Paul Rudd. While hardly an uproarious classic, this one turns out to be better than anything showing a stuffed-mouse diorama of "The Last Supper" has any right to be.
If you go 'Dinner For Schmucks' 3 out of 5 Stars Stars: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Jemaine Clement, Zach Galifianakis Director: Jay Roach Rated PG-13 for sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity and language Running Time: 114 minutes
Rudd has quickly become the patron saint of buddy bonding with his semiwacky, semimushy "I Love You, Man," "Role Models," and "Knocked Up" all opening since just 2007. In today's zany/sentimental farce, Rudd again portrays the straight man. His ambitious financial analyst Tim must go along with the sick game his boss (Bruce Greenwood) likes to play if he wants to get a promotion: The company's elite has a monthly contest to see who can bring the biggest idiot to dinner.
Conveniently, Tim runs into or, rather, almost runs over the strangest duck imaginable, the blundering dimwit Barry (Carell). But for all his cluelessness, as Barry accidentally begins to unravel Tim's love life and career, the poor schmuck is just a sweet, heartbroken fool for an ex-wife who cuckolded him. Barry's rival for his ex's affections, Therman (played with great abandon by "The Hangover's" bearded bozo Zach Galifianakis), also turns out to be his rival for head twit at the upcoming big dinner.
Meanwhile, Tim is slowly losing his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak). This happens thanks to Barry's unintentional sabotage, a stalker from an old one-night stand (Lucy Punch), and a crazy artist trying to entice her away. In the juicy part of Julie's egomaniac seducer, Jemaine Clement, the hilarious New Zealander from HBO's "Flight of the Conchords," steals his every scene from Carell (aspiring to be a Peter Sellers type) and Rudd.
Best known for the "Austin Powers" and "Meet the Parents" franchises, Jay Roach directs this redo inspired by Francis Veber's 1998 French hit "Le Diner de cons" (The Dinner Game). If too few big belly laughs are served, Roach's recipe for "Dinner" is always easy to swallow.