Dinner for Schmucks is an American remake of a much darker French farce called Le Diner de Cons [loosely translated, The Dinner Game]. It is built around the idea that Tim Conrad [Paul Rudd] can win a promotion not because of a brilliant idea he pitches at a board meeting of Fender Financial, but by bringing the most spectacular guest to a very special dinner – a dinner where each of the company’s top executives befriends a person of “extraordinary talent” and brings them to said dinner. The catch is that “extraordinary talent” is a euphemism for “idiot.” If Tim can bring the most the spectacularly idiotic person to the dinner, he can gain his promotion.
Serendipity leads Tim to Barry Speck – a naïf whose hobby, building panoramas using stuffed mice – who strikes him as a potential game winner. Between getting to know Barry and impress his fiancée by nabbing that promotion, Tim allows himself to go places, ethically, that he knows are wrong. Add a supporting cast of heartless executives and an equal number of ‘idiots’ – plus a crazy woman [Lucy Punch] who has stalked Tim since their one-night stand and a truly peculiar artist [Jemaine Clement] – and the result is hilarity and heart in equal measure – combined with just enough of an edge to keep things from becoming maudlin.
Sadly, the DVD release of Dinner For Schmucks is pretty light on features…
Features: a solid Behind-The-Scenes featurette; a handful of Deleted Scenes, and an okay Outtake Reel.
Grade: Dinner For Schmucks – B+
Grade: Features – D
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