Dinner for Schmucks - 28th January 2011

Ok, so Hollywood takes another film and remakes it, by now nobody should be shocked and while I could easily go on a long rant about remakes, this one falls under the 'English language' version banner and therefor is a little more forgivable than The Nightmare on Elm Street remake, for example (which is just stupid).

With the critical mauling this film took and with the remake factor, you maybe screaming at the blog saying 'well why the blazers did you watch this rubbish in the first place!' or you may use more expletives and less British slang than that in your every day speech but either way, let me defend my position.

Basically it comes down to three things:
Firstly it was a snow/sick day, there wasn't much else going on and on days like that I fancy mindless comedy, secondly I like both the lead actors and all the cameo actors as well and thirdly, often if a film is as terrible as this one was made out to be in the general printed press, I confess to a slight weakness for wanting to see films like that, partly to see how, sometimes, a group of popular people can put a foot so wrong and partly because I don't believe the press half the time. How can a film with Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell be all that bad, really? I don't really need to list their remarkable resumes do I? Ok so I wasn't all that bothered by Carrell in Date Night and I didn't see  How Do You Know and I hear it was pretty bad but apart from that they are usually both, good for a laugh.

I will say one more thing before the review, am I the only one who was sort of expecting a Paul Rudd backlash but really glad it hasn't happened? because he is usually the sort of person that generally people get sick of pretty quick, either that or start saying 'I hate Paul Rudd' just to be different but I, personally, think he's brilliant.
He has aligned himself with all the right groups of comedians from the David Wain/State group, to the Judd Apatow stable and also is a vocal fan of British comedy such as Little Britain, amongst others. He also seems to have remained pretty down to earth, which is often a good sign to. So where as I can completely understand people getting sick of Seth Rogen, the voice alone was enough along with his lack of range, I think what keeps people coming back to Paul Rudd is that he is handsome enough for women to like him but goofy and male enough for the men not to turn against his handsomeness, find out where he lives and en masse turn up and urinate through his mail slot.

As for the film, what the hell were all those reviewers going on about?! While it was in no way as genius, original or as funny as Anchorman it does remind me of that situation where a big group of people just didn't seem to get the joke.
Now I haven't seen the original (I know! I will!) but it struck me that firstly, they tried really hard to make it a genuinely amusing and slightly surreal farce in a very European tradition and secondly, they did try to give it a fair amount of social commentary and even depth below the very superficial yet, often times, hilarious surface.
In case people don't know it's about a guy who, in order to get ahead in business, has to find an idiot to come to a special dinner hosted by his work superiors and obviously, in the process has his life pulled apart, realises the truth of the matter, comes to learn real values and then proceeds to put his life back together with said idiot in toe.
The curious thing about this film was how much better it was than the trailer. It feels like, having read some of the negative reviews that they were reviewing the trailer and not the film because after seeing the trailer, I too felt that this band of modern comedians had wildly missed the mark and finally all banded together to make a bad film, however, in my household, a dumb farcical comedy starring people you like has two jobs:
1. To make you laugh
2. To make sure you still like the people by the end of the film that you liked at the beginning of the film
Dinner for Schmucks, I am glad to say, succeeded on both counts.

Now were there weak moments? sure, of course, there was bound to be some, for example, David Walliams is not as funny as he thinks he is, not all of the final collection of idiots were as laugh-out-loud as they could've been but sadder than that, the character that the marvelous Jermaine Clement played grew a little tiresome by the end.
All in all though the film had some really inspired flights of creative lunacy, a great pace, Steve Carell, along with Zach Galifanakis in a bonkers cameo, were very very funny, the film juggled the surreal, the light and, sometimes, the very black humour well and the farce, for me, never became annoying and never gave me occasion to shout "No! no please don't do that! no!" as someone did something obviously stupid to a vintage car/house/work of art (as is so often the cliche with these things).

As I started with Mr.Rudd, I will end with a comment about him. while he was perfectly fine in this film and played a good semi-straight man with the right dose of charm and timing, he is better than this role.
He is at his best when he is playing an actual character, like the amazing and smooth Brian Fantana from Anchorman, complete with comedy tache, or the grumpy, world hating and quick witted energy drink salesman in Role Models. At his best, his straight man schtick is the awkward, ridiculous nickname spouting, bass slappin' real estate agent in I Love You Man but at its worst it can be a little dry, flat and bland, which, in the case of Dinner for Schmucks is of course to do with the script but also so that he is the sane little eye of the big crazy storm, if he had a wacky character too then there really would be no one for the audience to hitch their wagon to.
Still, I could do with more Fantana sytle roles for Rudd and less cookie cutter romantic leads.

All that being said, maybe I went in with low expectations, maybe it works better on the small screen or maybe I watched in such a stupidity induced stupor that I wasn't thinking straight but I enjoyed it and would even go as far as to recommend it.

7 out of 10 fake cheeses in a stuffed mouse diorama

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