Even though the new comedy “Dinner For Schmucks” is based on a positively rude French farce, director Jay Roach plays this American remake pretty safe. In fact, the tone never quite seems right—and “Dinner For Schmucks” never quite finds its footing before it’s supposed to go off the rails.
I say “supposed to” because the movie never does go off the rails—or anywhere else for that matter. The setup is mean-spirited for sure, with corporate climber Paul Rudd inviting a clueless Steve Carell to a ‘dinner for idiots,’ where all the smarmy rich people laugh at unsuspecting weirdos just for fun.
But just as soon as all of its characters are introduced, Dinner for Schmucks saddles some great comic talent in a lame sitcom plot with a feel-good lesson that’s about as obvious as it is inappropriate.
Rudd, frankly, is too smart to be this big of a dimwit, and “Flight of the Conchords” star Jemaine Clement is so over the top he thinks he’s in a bigger, broader film. Despite bad material and an awkwardly muted tone, Carell and Zach Galifianakis manage to squeeze out some pretty funny performances, so all is not lost. It’s just too bad that this American version is so toothless and cloying.