Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

Entertainment Rating: 3 of 5

I found myself laughing a lot more than I thought I would. If this were to have had Will Farrell or Jim Carey in it, I probably wouldn’t have laughed near as much. While there was a fair amount of needless crude humor, there was enough good humor to create an overall positive effect on our enjoyment of the movie. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone, just because I’d probably be embarrassed to sit through it with some people.

Moral Rating: 2 of 5

A moral element in this type of a movie should be less direct. When you create these unbelievable characters it’s ridiculous to try and force the audience to have any sort of feelings for them. The film manages to eek out a bit of a heartfelt message in being careful about what you say behind a person’s back and remaining true to yourself (not try to live two versions of yourself). I found what Eric Snider had to say on this resonated quite well with me:
“The reason Hollywood tends to mess up farce is that Hollywood is inclined to water things down, to soften the blow, to make movies as appealing to as many people as possible. That's the business. Given the choice between making a film that thousands of people love and one that millions of people like, studios will usually choose the second one... 
“This is not a real thing that real people would do, nor is it likely that in real life a boss would use a game like this to determine whether he wants to promote an employee. Farce, you see. Nobody's trying to convince you that this is plausible. 
“Tim's girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), discourages him from going along with the cruel prank, and Tim -- a good guy, of course, since he's played by perpetual good guy Paul Rudd -- agrees. But then he stumbles across Barry (Steve Carell), an IRS agent who does taxidermy as a hobby and is the most clueless, clumsy, pathetic idiot Tim has ever met. It would be a waste not to take Barry to the party and win the promotion. 
“But before it gets to be dinnertime, Barry must inadvertently ruin every aspect of Tim's life. That is how these things go. Barry is the type of character Steve Carell excels at, part Michael Scott from "The Office," part Brick from "Anchorman," part Andy from "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." He is completely innocent, without guile, oblivious to sexual innuendo. You can't hate him for screwing things up because he only has the best intentions. He's just. Such. An. Idiot. 
“What he is not, however, is a real person. No one in real life is like Barry. He's a combination of several different types of morons (and believe me, I know my morons). That isn't a liability -- Carell's performance is frequently hilarious -- until the moment arrives when we're supposed to take his plight seriously and feel sorry for him. 
“No, movie! No! As viewers, we have different rules for different types of comedy. We'll accept the outlandish, implausible things like the psycho stalker (Lucy Punch) who shows up at Tim's apartment, and the cartoonishly pretentious artist (Jemaine Clement) working with Tim's girlfriend, and the weird IRS guy (Zach Galifianakis) who believes he can control people's minds, as long as 1) they're funny and 2) it's understood that this is all just for laughs. The minute you want us treat them like real people, our willing suspension of disbelief goes away. They AREN'T real people, movie. You went out of your way to make them as absurd and un-real as possible, for the sake of humor. You can't change your mind. That's bait and switch. THAT IS AGAINST THE LAW.”
One more clip:

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you found it somewhat enjoyable. This is one we contemplated renting several times but Vance is more into action adventure and though comedy is usually my choice, I was worried this would just be stupid and not funny. Maybe we'll give it a try ... but not with friends :-)

    I also like the quote you posted. It is so true in every element. My family and I are always saying how unrealistic something in a movie is, and inevitably someone has to bring up the fact that the entire plot is fiction. It just goes to show that we as viewers do have rules and expectations we expect hollywood to follow and it is noticeable when they don't, even in imaginary lands.