Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dinner for Schmucks

Today I decided to look at the movie showtimes and see if anything looked good. I have done this on at least a weekly basis for my entire adult life, but in the last five years there has been a growing number of weekends when I said, "Hmm. Nothing looks good. I guess I'll stay home and read a book instead." Today I actually knew what I wanted to see: Sorcerer's Apprentice, a new Disney feature that, apparently, coalesced around an attempt to make a live-action version of the Mickey Mouse scene in Fantasia.

When I surfed to my favorite multi-plex's website, however, my eye was struck by another title: Dinner for Schmucks. And that was a sale! I went to see it, halfway promising myself that I would see Sorcerer's Apprentice right afterward, but then I decided I was movied out. So that was my movie of the week. Doesn't it sound great?

Actually, it's pretty cute. A remake of a French movie, it features the comedic team of Paul Rudd (a rom-com leading man type) and Steve Carrell (who is lately getting the sort of roles Jim Carrey used to get). Together with Zach Galifianakis (the plump bearded guy from The Hangover), Bruce Greenwood, and other gifted cut-ups, they put on a hilarious buddy movie about an ambitious financial analyst and an IRS drone who makes anthropomorphic dioramas out of dead mice as a hobby. The "straight guy" invites the "schmuck" to the company dinner, which is actually an excuse to collect and make fun of idiots. But then, having convinced the schmuck that they're now friends, the straight guy can't shake him off. All kinds of slapstick mayhem ensues, reducing straight guy's love life and career to a shambles, but that's all right because along the way he realizes that the schmuck has become a true friend. Awww.

OK, it's a little sloppy, but the comedy is fairly clean (mostly) and the freaks turn out to be the most sympathetic characters (mostly). And it has perhaps the most squirm-a-licious scene I have witnessed in a long time. I won't spoil it, but it involves an engagement ring, a stalker, and some of the best rubber-faced mugging the world has seen since Jim Carrey fell off the planet... and the face in question belongs to Paul Rudd! Don't let anyone tell you this movie sucked. I know what "suck" looks like. I have walked out of Paul Rudd movies, and Steve Carrell movies, that sucked. This one was fun. Not a great movie that we'll be talking about at the end of the year. But it brought a needed and appreciated moment of laughter to a cinematic dry spell. And that's got to be worth something.

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