Tuesday, August 10, 2010

good movie, bad title

I've no idea why Jay Roach decided to call his latest film, "Dinner for Schmucks," a title that wildly misrepresents the material, except that it's crass enough to get people into theaters.

But Roach's other decisions, especially his eye for casting, are spot-on because his movie is surprisingly companionable, driven by some game performances.

A reinvention of Francis Verber's bracing, shameless 1998 French farce of humiliation, "Le dîner de cons" (released here as "The Dinner Game" in 1999), Roach's comedy is essentially something of a begrudging buddy film with the usual mismatched duo - two guys who wouldn't normally be friends. It's more "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" than "The Odd Couple."

Paul Rudd and Steve Carell inherit the original Thierry Lhermitte-Jacques Villeret roles of a careerist and the dolt he intends to use to impress his boss at a party where guests bring idiots for entertainment purposes.

Rudd, ever solid and always a good sport, anchors the film with his conflicted flipflopping over the conceit. But Carell is the source of the film's heart and humor as Barry, a poor soul into mouse-oriented taxidermy and dioramas. Wearing closely-cropped red hair with short bangs and prosthetic teeth (that seem to complement a nose that itself always seems like a prosethetic), Carell resembles a rodent himself.

A truly witty touch.

But giving Carell some serious competition are Jemaine Clement, Lucy Punch and particuarly the inspired Zach Galifianakis, all playing assorted crazies - and all of whom help Roach's spiked punch go down easy.


Doug said...

Joe, Joe, isn't Roach the guy who coined the name Fockers? 'Nuf said.

julien l. said...

Movies like this have a long history of being derided, maligned, stereotyped and dismissed by critics. With a different, critic-approved cast and director, it would be praised as "subversive." Which it is.

Sonny said...

I generally do not like films of this ilk, but a couple friends dragged me to see it and, yes, I enjoyed it. Very funny but, not as cruel as I expected. In fact, I found it kind of romantic, the blossoming bonding between Rudd and Carell.

M. Miller said...

A great romantic comedy that says even screwed-up people can find someone, even if they are of the same sex.

Ted said...

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Elliott said...

his is a really nice review but, there are a lot
of small details you kept messing up.