Saturday, 4 September 2010

REVIEW: Dinner For Schmucks

Put the pencil to the paper, give the paper to the people and let the people read about the sello tape. Yeeeah.

This was kind of a cool day at the cinema to be honest. I spend so many hours at the cinema expecting shit and being validated or expecting goodness and being bitch-slapped that when movies exceed expectations, even a little bit, then you take it as a kindness to appreciate. And that happened twice today. I wasn't expecting the worst movie in the world with Dinner For Schmucks, but I was expecting something akin to Date Night. Average leaning to bad. And it turns out its average leaning to good, thanks to a consistent tone of enjoyable insanity and average comedy performed by some very talented people. So even when things don't make sense, or a joke bombs, or any given one-note comic creation outstays its welcome, there's enough laughs to make it OK.

And to be clear these laughs aren't exactly born of the Oscar Wilde school of comedy, things be broad and unapologetically so. But thankfully its the good kind of broad, performed by people who are actually funny and understand physical comedy. The premise itself leans towards the sadistic, with suits working for some unnamed corporation all tasked with inviting idiots to a dinner, where they make fun of them. As the poster going past your window on the 142 bus will no doubt tell you, Paul Rudd is our corporate stooge, Steve Carell the idiot in question. Rudd's character is a necessary evil in a way, he's not bad but its a fairly bland and familiar straight man role which Rudd has played in stronger material before. Carell is as good as you would expect, but in a way the movie belongs to the supporting cast. Particularly Jermaine Clement and Zach Galifianakis, both nailing the tone of the movie in their performances. The former the playing the most stereotypical bohemian artist ever, but thanks his natural comedic talent is lent a bizarre uniqueness, and Galifianakis well he pretty much steals any movie he's in these days regardless of the consequences. Similarly Brit Lucy Punch does a good job in fairly basic crazy ex/stalker role, and for a firm full of douchebags I can't think of better casting then Ron Livingston and Bruce Greenwood.

It feels refreshingly off the cuff and doesn't seem too overly calculated, which sounds like a criticism but for the kind of film that this is, its exactly the way to play it. Director Jay Roach brings his customary Austin Powers zaniness to proceedings, and for a film that solely tries to make you laugh it succeeds. So yay.

Rating: 6/10

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