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Case Number 20442

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Dinner For Schmucks

Paramount // 2010 // 114 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Marco Duran (Retired) // January 5th, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Marco Duran thinks you can find more taste in a saltine cracker.

Editor's Note

Our review of Dinner For Schmucks (Blu-Ray), published December 30th, 2010, is also available.

The Charge

By the end of it, you may wonder what side of the TV screen the schmucks are on.

Opening Statement

So I got an invitation. An invitation to attend a dinner. A dinner for the DVD release of Dinner for Schmucks. I'm sure that the irony was not lost on the PR company throwing the shindig nor was it lost on me. However, I was being offered free food so "c'est la vie," call me what you like. That night was a fantastic night. It was held in the historic Roosevelt Hotel. I love going to that place. The architecture is beautiful and the ambiance is palpable. A section of the hotel was curtained off for us and though it was a rather large section, by the time we sat down to eat, there were only about 20 people there, half of which were from the movie or the PR firm.

dinner for schmucks

Before the food there was entertainment for us in the form of a contortionist, a sword swallower, and a guy with a Fushigi ball. Plus we had an open bar. Bonus! The dinner itself was delicious. It all started with a salad. There was an intermission between the chicken and the dessert that consisted of two belly dancers balancing scimitars on their heads. I was blessed and honored to have been invited to this event and I could write more about it than I can about this film.

Facts of the Case

Tim (Paul Rudd, I Love You, Man) is an aspiring executive who, in order to climb the corporate ladder, must find the perfect guest to invite to his boss's monthly dinner party. The winner of the evening is the one who arrives with the biggest idiot. Fortunately, he meets Barry (Steve Carell, The Office), a guy who creates works of art with dead mice.

The Evidence

It's taken me a long time to write this review. The film was so bland, the mashed potatoes I had were more interesting. There are elements of great ideas, remnants of possibilities, iotas of inspiration sprinkled throughout the film, like a seasoning spice, but in the end, it all did not amount to enough sustenance to make a full cinematic meal. Okay. Enough food metaphors…for now.

The film starts off with promise. The dioramas that Steve Carell's character makes with his mice are really cool. I absolutely love them and, by the end of the film, they are brought together and used with such poignancy that was surprising and actually moving. I now have a Dinner for Schmucks calendar filled with pictures of these dioramas hanging on my wall, two days crossed off.

Steve Carrell does his best in what must be a second nature role to him by now just ramping up the childishness of Michael Scott to deliver his character in this film. And poor Jemaine Clement can not catch a break in his foray into film. Maybe this will force a third season of Flight of the Conchords to happen. The stand out performance here though is Lucy Punch and her completely uninhibited performance. Though her character is totally unnecessary, she's the only one who left me wanting to see her again, in a different film of course. Plus she does all her own stunts!

The main problem with this film is what happens between Tim and Barry meeting and the actual dinner. There is a long tangent with Lucy Punch's psychopath named Darla and Jermaine Clement's modern artist, Kieran. It's as if the writers could not write in enough schmucks at the dinner, they had to place them everywhere. Maybe they were trying to say that schumcks are all around us, everyday, disguised in many forms. Maybe, but I think that's reading way too much into it though.

The video is clear and the audio, in 5.1 clarity, comes in four different flavors; English, Spanish, French, and an audio stream where someone describes what's going on on the screen in English. There is a featurette on the "Making of," a rather lengthy gag reel, deleted scenes, and previews for other films of questionably better quality.

Closing Statement

In closing, I really like the mice dioramas. They are awesome. Plus that dinner I got to attend was really cool. Um…yeah. I'm gonna go make myself some mac and cheese and watch the original film "Le diner de cons."

The Verdict

Guilty of wasting the ingredients it was given.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 80
Acting: 80
Story: 50
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English, Descriptive)
• English (SDH)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 114 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
• Comedy

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• Featurette
• Gag Reel


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