Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Video review: "Dinner for Schmucks"

 Steve Carell gives an off-kilter, weird performance in "Dinner for Schmucks." As Barry, an IRS agent whose social skills appear to have stopped developing around third grade, Carell creates a character that we do not believe could really live and breathe in the real world. But it's such a pitifully funny creation, we go along with the gag.

Barry's hobby -- his only passion in life, really -- is stuffing dead mice and placing them in diorama poses, what he calls "mousterpieces." When he runs into Tim (Paul Rudd), he's soon made the patsy in a nasty game run by Tim's boss: Each man has to invite the most pathetic loser they can find to a dinner party. The guy who brings the most laughable guest wins.

A remake of a French comedy, "Dinner for Schmucks" doesn't contain joke-a-minute laughs. But when a scene hits high gear, it's as funny as anything I saw in 2010. Zach Galifianakis has a hilarious turn as Barry's boss, who's a dork himself but just enough less of a dork than Barry to convince him that he can control Barry's mind.

Lucy Punch also has a great walk-on scene as a sexual stalker who tries to put the moves on Barry, but he's too much of a moron to realize he's being seduced.
"Dinner for Schmucks" contains a full course of mirth.

Video features are a bit light, but worth a look.

On the DVD version, there are deleted scenes, a gag reel -- dubbed "Schmuck Ups" -- and a feature on the Biggest Schmucks in the World.

In addition, the Blu-ray edition contains a featurette on "The Man Behind the Mousterpieces," another called "Meet the Winners" and a spoof of LeBron James' "The Decision" press conference starring Carell and Rudd.

Movie: 3 stars out of four
Extras: 2.5 stars out of four

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