Dinner for Schmucks

Scriptwriters are handsomely paid for a good reason. A good movie script focuses the story and advances the plot. During the filming of this remake of the superb 1999 French comedy "The Dinner Game," Director Jay Roach ("Meet the Fockers") unleashed two top comics known in their profession as terrific ad libbers. According to reports I have read, Paul Rudd ("I Love You, Man") and Steve Carell ("Date Night") cracked up cast and crew with their spontaneous dialogue during the filming. Unfortunately, in my opinion, you had to be there.

This gag-ridden comedy lacks heart, even though the talented Mr. Rudd and his romantic co-star Stephanie Szostak ("The Devil Wears Prada") give it their best shot; while Carell offers us a wide-eyed loner who creates miniature scenes that feature dead mice, which is actually cuter than it sounds. Rudd's character is an ambitious young executive invited by his boss, played by Bruce Greenwood ("Mao's Last Dancer") to a regularly scheduled dinner in which everyone competes to see who can bring the biggest idiot.

Two actors and their loathsome characters actually upset me: Jemaine Clement ("Gentlemen Broncos") plays a pretentious artiste, and the shockingly overrated Zach Galifianakis ("The Hangover") is Carell's humiliating boss. Both of the scenes with Galifianakis drag on and on.... Challenging them for the "Yuck" award is Lucy Punch ("Hot Fuzz") as a truly repugnant stalker.

Because of its two appealing leads, I suspect this will be a popular movie, but I beg you, please check out "The Dinner Game" to see the classic which inspired it. On my Home page, click on "alphabetized list" and look up my review of this wonderful comedy. You may be inspired to check it out of your library or Netflix.