Schmucks Has Heart, Along With a Few Life Lessons

29 Jul

Dinner for Schmucks is probably the runner-up for best movie title of the year, second only to Hot Tub Time Machine. But unlike Time Machine, Schmucks doesn’t rely entirely on raunchy humor to carry the film, it builds on the quirkiness of characters and a bizarre sense of sentimentality that Steve Carell and Paul Rudd have virtually mastered.

Enter Paul Rudd playing the role of Tim Wagner, an up-and-coming venture capitalist who wows his boss by wooing a potential $100 million Swiss client. Tim is at the doorstep of greatness but before he can enter there is one little hitch: He has to bring the biggest loser he can find to a special dinner. Now he’ll be able to afford that Porsche he is driving, the spacious apartment he is living in and give his soon-to-be finance, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), the wedding of her dreams.

But fate has a way of intervening and Tim didn’t have to go loser hunting. Enter Barry, who meets Tim through the business end of his Porsche.

We are introduced to Barry through his hobby, taxidermy. Barry’s extracurricular activity revolves around stuffing dead mice and posing them as famous works of art. Picture the Mona Lisa, only with a dead mouse. Carell’s character of Barry is played with the innocence of a child… a very, very socially demented child. Tim’s thought: Loser Jackpot!

But when Tim explains the biggest loser dinner and his godsend of a nominee to Julie she sees the whole event as more of a perversion than a harmless novelty. Tim vows to his art show curator girlfriend (with one of the strangest accents I’ve heard on the big screen), that he will opt out of the dinner.

But fate struck again, and as Julie left the scene Barry enters.

Carrel’s portrayal of Barry was perfect. Barry became a tornado of destruction almost immediately. In a matter of mere minutes he is able to turn Tim’s life upside down. I will not ruin the chaos that ensues as Barry becomes entangled in the life of Tim.

The secondary characters all carry their weight as well. After Barry misinterprets a booty call instant message, he accidently invites Darla, a former one night stand and current stalker of Tim, to his apartment. Zach Galifianakas plays Therman, an IRS auditor with extra sensory abilities who holds a special power over Barry. Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Concords and the ill-fated Gentleman Broncos) plays Kiernan Vollard, the eccentric artist with “animal magnetism”.

As Tim dives deeper and deeper into the dead mouse filled world of Barry his misery grows exponentially. The final scenes are a blend of weirdness and friendship as we finally get to see the menagerie of characters that partake in the “dinner for schmucks.” Hilarity ensures and the comedy continues but there is still heart in this film’s message. Barry’s intentions are always pure and he is excited by the notion of dinner with his new friend Tim. As destructive as his character becomes you never dislike Barry or questions his motives. As expected, Tim learns the true nature of friendship and in the end, discovers it is better to be a little strange like Barry, than the type of guy he is becoming in order to get the coveted job.

Note that this isn’t a summer comedy that depends on shock value and constant strings of swears for laughs. In the same vein of humor as Meet the Parents, Schmucks makes the audience feel as uncomfortable as possible with awkward outlandish scenarios. There are many cringe worthy scenes that had the audience in hysterics all while squirming in their seats. This movie is a solid B+ that demonstrates how well Steve Carell can play the likeable loser and how Paul Rudd has perfected the tormented nice guy.

Directed by Jay Roach, from a screenplay by David Guion and Michael Handelman, inspired by the French film “Le Diner de Cons” by Francis Veber. Starring: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Jemaine Clement, Jeff Dunham, Bruce Greenwood, Ron Livingston, Lucy Punch, Stephanie Szostak.  114 minutes.

This review was provided by friend of the Thunder,  Dean Moriarty ( aka the Free Movie Czar and The No-Shorts Bandit) will return from time to time.

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One Response to “Schmucks Has Heart, Along With a Few Life Lessons”

  1. Kelly July 30, 2010 at 10:43 am #

    I totally agree with this insightful and well-written review. This was a great movie, though it did make me feel uncomfortable at points in a Meet the Parents kind of way.

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