Dinner For Schmucks is to movies what peanut butter with salmonella is to the food industry: terrible. I don’t care how much tolerance you have for bad comedies, but when you gather large amounts of potential talent and somehow find a way to screw everything up, then we have a problem. In short, Dinner For Schmucks is like a terrible roller coaster ride. Granted, there are one or two moments in the ride when everything is fine and dandy, only to have you fall off and go splattering to some untimely demise…unless it’s a toddler’s roller coaster in which case you brush yourself off and yell profanities at everyone in ear shot.
Director Jay Roach, who you may know for classics such as Meet the Parents and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, apparently decided to not give a damn while filming this particular movie, throwing caution to the wind and let some summer intern try their hand at directing. Still, I’m being a little unfair to this debacle of a movie. Steve Carrell, an actor who seems to shine while on The Office and nothing else, is hilarious when he’s not in movies. I’m not sure why this is, but there’s some universal power that doesn’t let his comedy translate over onto the big screen. Zach Galifiankis, an actor who might be slightly overexposed by this point, seeing as he’s in comedy after comedy, also succeeds in failing to bring his A game to the table. What we’re left with are a bunch of great actors spouting off the mundane and horribly written gibberish presented to them.
There are brief moments in Dinner For Schmucks that can be considered funny, but they are few and far in between. Nearly every line feels forced or contrived and no one seems too concerned with their overall performance. The jokes are painfully stale and the moments that are supposed to be awkward are in fact awkward, but this more because of poor filmmaking rather than intentional cleverness. Don’t get me wrong, I can sit through bad movies with the rest of them and there are certainly movies that are much worse than Dinner For Schmucks, but that does not mean I have to take the disappointment lying down.
The message of the movie seems to be something along the lines of even socially awkward people have feelings too and can be the best of friends. The film’s antagonists are downright nasty and uncaring people, with the only light at the end of the proverbial moral tunnel coming from Steve Carrell’s character of dead-mouse-collecting Barry. Paul Rudd, the lead actor, gives off a vibe of complete apathy. Throughout most of the movie, there’s very little variation in his personality or even facial expressions. He looks bored.
I’d say that Dinner For Schmucks is an entirely forgettable film, but this is not the case, as is evidenced in my writing of it. The movie doesn’t even set much of a tone and you’re left leaving the theater feeling exactly as you came in. Regardless, if you’re absolutely hell bent on watching this movie, then please wait till you can add it to your Netflix cue so that you don’t have to make the same mistake I did and actually pay to watch the thing.