Monday, 13 September 2010


Paramount Pictures
Now Showing

Hollywood remakes of foreign films are nothing new. In the next two weeks we'll be seeing Atom Egoyan's Chloe (based on the French film, Nathalie), and Matt Reeves' Let Me In (the remake of the Swedish vampire film, Let The Right One In), while David Fincher is already in Sweden prepping for his take on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Dinner For Schmucks is a remake of French farce, The Dinner Game, which was a hit in France and other countries back in 1998. Exactly why it has taken 12 years for Hollywood to produce its version I'm not sure: a fear the humour could be lost in translation?

Judging by the audience I saw it with, Dinner For Schmucks gets a pretty high laugh quotient (some people even snorted!) for its almost two-hour running time. Those laughs are in spite of the film's rather cruel premise – to get ahead in his company, an employee has to bring an idiot along to dinner; the biggest idiot wins – which I'm assuming, not having seen the original, this remake has softened.

Tim (Paul Rudd) is the guy who wants to get ahead but he's not so much cruel as eager. His superiors, including Bruce Greenwood, are the real bastards and, hey, it's not hard to hate money men in suits. Tim's girlfriend Julie (French actress Stephanie Szostak, a nod to the original perhaps?) thinks the idea is abhorrent and so he vows not to go through with it. That is until he runs down Barry (Steve Carrell), an IRS employee who makes mouse dioramas, and is quickly convinced he's hit the doofus jackpot.

So ensues a rather long series of embarrassing sequences as Tim attempts to get Barry to the dinner without him discovering its real purpose and without Julie finding out. But in some what of a karmic twist, Barry's presence wreaks havoc on Tim's life. Rudd is no stranger to playing the straight guy as he does here, sitting back while Carrell's Barry unleashes wave upon wave of stupidity that will have you laughing and cringing in equal measure.

I could have done with a much shorter waiting time for the actual dinner to arrive, but there are enough appetizers throughout – Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement, as a self important artist, and The Hangover's Zach Galifianakis, as Barry's sadistic boss, the tastiest two – to keep your hunger for humour sated.

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