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Movie Review

Dinner for Schmucks also known as “La cena de los idiotas,” “Um Jantar para Idiotas”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity and language.

Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
CONTRIBUTOR

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Genre:
Comedy Remake
Length:
1 hr. 55 min.
Year of Release:
2010
USA Release:
July 30, 2010 (wide—2,500+ theaters)
DVD: January 4, 2011
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Featuring: Steve Carell (Barry), Paul Rudd (Tim Wagner), Stephanie Szostak (Julie), Jemaine Clement (Kieran Vollard), Zach Galifianakis (Therman), Chris O'Dowd (Marco Blind Swordsman), Lucy Punch (Darla), Octavia Spencer (Nora Pet Psychic), more »
Director: Jay Roach
Producer: DreamWorks SKG, Paramount Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes, Jon Poll, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“Takes one to know one”

Sometimes you can have everything in place and things still don’t work out. You can have all the ingredients for a five star meal, but it tastes like decent fast food. You can have two of the most popular comedic actors, with a director whose films have made over a billion dollars, but, for some reason,the parts are better than the sum. That, unfortunately, is the case with “Dinner for Schmucks.”

Based on a French film called “The Dinner Game” (1998), “Dinner for Schmucks” centers around Tim played by comic everyman Paul Rudd, a mid-level employee at a gigantic company. Tim is dying for a promotion, so that he will have the money he thinks he needs to marry his girlfriend. While his work has started to impress his boss, Tim faces one more obstacle. His boss, Lance Fender (Bruce Greenwood), has a dinner every month in which each of his executives try to bring the biggest idiot to dinner. Lance wants Tim to find an idiot and attend the dinner to prove he is worthy of the promotion.

While, initially, Tim resists the urge to humiliate someone for his own betterment, soon enough, his greed takes over, after he literally runs across Barry (played by Steve Carell of “The Office”). Barry is unique, to say the least. He works for the IRS, but he’s, also, a taxidermist who makes murals out of stuffed mice, calling them “mousterpieces.” One mishap after another lead us to the big dinner where Tim has to decide whether or not to go through with his plan.

Hearing about this movie, you have to think that it can’t help but be funny. It’s got two proven comedic leads, a funny plot, as well as an exceptional supporting cast. Maybe that’s why I left the theater somewhat disappointed. Despite not being nearly as funny as I expected, it also seemed to drag in places. The dinner itself, that the title references, is a riot. It’s very humorous, but it takes “Dinner for Schmucks” over an hour and a half just to get to said dinner. Also, while Steve Carell has some hilarious scenes, most of the time, he just seems to be doing a more goofy, unaware version of his “Office” character Michael Scott, a character that isn’t nearly as funny as it used to be 6 years ago.

The humor in “Dinner for Schmucks” may appeal to you if you are a big fan of “Meet The Parents” or any other work based on awkward, cringe inducing, or gross out humor. A lot of times, when you think things can’t get any worse, they do. They get much worse. Some of these bits come off as hilarious, while others fall flat. When the bits are funny, it’s usually thanks to the supporting cast, which includes the likes of Zack Galifinakis of “The Hangover” and Jemaine Clement from the cult TV series “Flight of the Conchords.” These two actors get more laughs from their limited material than Carell does from his vast amount of screen time. From a filmmaking stand point, it’s the kind of inconsistency that keeps this movie from being recommended.

On a content level, “Dinner for Schmucks” is pretty much business as usual for director Jay Roach. Famous for the “Austin Powers” and “Meet the Parents” movie series, Roach’s films always contain a great deal of sexual situations, innuendo, and dialogue, but they always manage to just qualify for a PG-13 rating. This movie is no different. While there are no sex scenes or nudity, scantily clad women and graphic sexual dialogue make numerous appearances throughout. The use of foul language isn’t rampant, but heavy vulgarity and profanity doe make appearances [God (4), Jesus (2), 1 f-word, 7 s-words, etc.].

Underneath the content and inconsistency problems, there is a heart to “Dinner for Schmucks”. Ultimately, the film is a lot less about the dinner itself and more about an unlikely budding friendship between the two leads. There are more heartfelt moments than one might expect, and the lead character realizes the error of his ways. While a redemptive ending and some funny moments are nice, they don’t make up for what ends up being a missed opportunity to knock one out of the park.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Extreme


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I thought “Dinner for Schmucks” was hilarious. Steve Carell gives what I think was probably his best performance since “Little Miss Sunshine” as Barry. Carell manages to make us laugh with his ridiculous character and to feel for him at the same time. Carell never forces his performance, but makes Barry feel like a developed character who is blissfully unaware that he is not normal, but doesn’t care. Carell’s character is, also, interesting in the way that he is like a wrecking ball in Paul Rudd’s life, but is then able to come through for him and is totally willing to forgive him any transgressions.

The film has an important message about not judging people, because you don’t always know the full story (a scene where Barry’s rival will only help if Barry will say a rather innocuous sounding sentence, and Barry refuses, is later given power and meaning when we find out just what the rival was asking of Barry).

And, on a final note, who are the real fools here? These lovable and eccentric characters who are happy and love themselves (who the film manages it so that we are laughing WITH them not AT them) or the businessmen and women who are so insecure with themselves that they feel the need to put others on display for ridicule, just to feel better about themselves. I, also, found it clever and original that several of the films points are made with the mousterpieces. “Dinner with Schmucks” contains profanity and sexual humor (no more than average), but is intelligent enough to not resort to toilet humor.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Andrew, age 34 (USA)
Positive—I really like Steve Carell when he’s not being crass. He really can act and definitely has a sweet side. I, also, love Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis… That was reason enough for me to go see “Dinner for Shmucks”.

Though I confess I enjoyed the film, there are a few issues that I can’t get around and am extremely disappointed that they made it into the film (these scenes were not funny and took away from the quality of the movie). On scene shows a woman clad in a leather top who chases Steve Carell around and tries to whip/have sex with him. Not funny.

A couple of scenes depict vulgar, perverse scenes of what will be “animal sex” between people. And my last biggest problem was when a man mentions that he could get a b.j. I had no idea they could say that in a PG-13. I freely admit this film should have been rated R. An R would have been perfectly fitting and would hopefully keep parents from taking younger children to go see it.

Besides those few (yet terribly unfortunate) moments and some predictable turnouts, “Dinner for Shmucks” is a funny and actually quite heart-warming film. Steve Carell really shines here. He needs to do these roles more often!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Benjamin Badger, age 19 (USA)
Neutral

none

Negative
Negative—Although this movie is funny, there are at least three rather kinky sexual scenes that I was horrified to have children see—actually, I was horrified, too! They aren’t subtle at all, like in most PG-13… this movie should definitely be R rated.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Vicki, age 48 (USA)
Negative—This is such a dreadful movie. Even two good actors such as Paul Rudd and Steve Carell couldn’t save this mess of a story. The humor is disgusting; the premises are dreadful. It has offensive elements galore. Yes, I sat through the whole thing with ghoulish fascination watching what was supposed to be entertainment. What a waste of comedic talent. I did laugh a bit, because of some outrageous goofy spots, but I was, also, bored throughout most of the movie. So not good.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
Halyna Barannik, age 64 (USA)
Negative—I am INFURIATED that this is rated PG-13. I cannot believe the amount of sexual content in this movie, I had to walk out during one scene, and even though I came back with my husband in hopes that was the “last time” it was going to be like that. I am frustrated with myself that I let my guard down to take the risk to even see a movie like this until I researched it. I feel it’s one of the dirtiest movies I have been exposed to in a long time, and the devil just tries to slide in his demonic corruption of sex with a bunch of humor.

Sure, it was funny, and it could have been a great movie, but PLEASE don’t corrupt your divine spirit by watching this movie. After this, I VOW to ALWAYS, by God’s grace, wait till a movie has been out so I can protect myself and make sure I read reviews about it before I go on the third night it has been released.

I can’t imagine my 13 year niece seeing this movie; it makes me nauseous to think children can even see this let alone adults. The main sexual icon in this movie, is regularly dressed as a goat and has horns on his head in situations which totally depict the devil. There was nudity in this movie, and I still can’t believe it was PG-13!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: ½
—Samantha Taylor, age 35 (USA)
Negative—I am sooo sorry I took my 13yr old sons to this movie (and myself, for that matter). It was so vulgar that, thankfully, my boys did not know what some of the words and phrases meant. I don’t understand why a filmmaker has to rely on such extreme vulgarity to get laughs. In my opinion, it ceases to be funny. We try to teach our kids that making fun of others is wrong and can be considered to be bullying. The way the “dinner guests” were treated was sad, not funny. I was glad to know that my children felt the same way. I had a lot of explaining to do on the car ride home… apologies, as well. I feel that I have sinned against my children and my God. I’m only glad that they have all forgiven me. I will set this Web site as a shortcut and remember to look at it before I agree to a movie choice, and I will spread the word to all my friends about this movie and this Web site. Thanks and God Bless you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Catherine C, age 51 (USA)
Negative—My wife and I usually check movie reviews before we watch them because we are specific to help guard our hearts. We were in a hurry and didn’t check the reviews on this one. I wish VERY MUCH I had. This movie had a few funny parts, but, overall, was an INCREDIBLY CRUDE movie. I walked out embarrassed that I had supported this movie with my finances and my time. I, also, walked out SHOCKED that this movie only carries a PG-13 rating! If you are a parent reading this review, and you care about guarding your child’s heart… Please do not allow them to see this movie!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Greg Key, age 35 (USA)
Negative—I really thought that it was genuinely funny from the commercial ad… I usually check christianspotlight.com first before I go to the movies… well, I wish now… The Lord’s name is taken in vain A LOT, and A LOT of sexual material is referenced. I feel awful now inside. Tons of swearing, too.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Al, age 30s (USA)
Negative—I really like sSteve Carell’s work, especially in the show “The Office,” which is one of the reasons why I rented this film (the other one was that the Blockbuster clerk recommended it). Needless to say, there were a few parts that I thought were funny, and the rest just grossed me out, period. Jokes about feces, sexual reproductive organs, and birthing a zebra, just fell flat. Didn’t like the “message on a napkin” scene, either. While I liked the premise that no one, no matter how eccentric, should be treated as an idiot, I felt that the film could’ve left out the sex humor. They could’ve eliminated the objectionable content, and the film would’ve been a solid PG.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Shannon H., age 29 (USA)
Comments from young people
Negative—“Dinner with Schmucks” had the potential to be a really adorable and heartfelt movie but alas it was not. I was really grossed out at the sexual content in this movie. I felt extremely uncomfortable watching this movie with my younger brother. I should have shut it off in 10 minutes in but i kept thinking maybe it would get better. Believe me it did not. Although I found myself laughing aloud in a couple parts, the dirty outweighed the funny. Don’t waste your time or your money on this movie!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Mary, age 15 (USA)
Comments from non-viewers
Negative—I saw this movie with my boyfriend. After the first few scenes with barely clad women and awkward innuendos, we hoped that it wouldn’t continue on this way, but then a prolonged scene with a woman wearing hardly anything forced us out. It was absolute garbage to anyone with a moral compass. I felt dirty sitting there in that movie and embarrassed to say that we went into it. Unfortunately, this movie helps prove the reason we watch mostly movies like Pixar and Dreamworks. Don’t waste your money.
—Amanda, age 20 (USA)
Negative—Okay, so I ALWAYS use this site to figure out if a movie is worth viewing. I mainly look for the “sexual content” in it, and if it has ANY sex scenes or nudity, I don’t watch it. Mainly because I have people in my life who have felt convicted of pornography taking over their minds, but have stopped recently and are now a lot closer to Jesus and are solely living for him. ((Amen))

On that note, this site is usually spot on for me being able to say yes or no to stuff. However, with this particular movie I was/am extremely disappointed in the reviewer, because it seemed to be a misleading statement on the sexual references. Almost 20 minutes in there is a woman online chatting through an “AIM”-like program and sends a picture of her backside to Rudd (which is actually Steve Carell), but she is unaware. He then prints it out and scans many women’s behinds, until he thinks he finds the right one. #1 worst scene so far in this film.

#2. When that lady comes over to Rudd’s place and is wearing a dominatrix-like outfit and is wrestling Carell (I fast forwarded this, because I was horrified.)

#3. I thought, maybe, that was the last of it, but, no, there is a scene at a restaurant with Rudd and Carell and that Lady again—where she writes something on a napkin with her lipstick that is beyond inappropriate.

#4. There is another scene with this weird art guy who is photographing himself practically naked with two women dressed just in paint.

—after that I HAD to shut it off. It was clear it was a “sexual comedy.” Very offensive.

And hurts my heart thinking about all of those people affected by pornography who are trying to get better and only to see something like this… ugh. All in all, the worst movie I have seen in almost a year. Spare your mind and your money and keep your mind precious.
—Leigh, age 23 (USA)