Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dinner For Schmucks

Let's Go Straight To Dessert
[Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis, Jermaine Clement]

Wheels are turning: Octavia Spencer, left, Patrick Fischler (background), Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Rick Overton and Jeff Dunham.
Image from www.usatoday.com

RANT: Woke up later than expected, went to the gym, got breakfast, ate breakfast, showered, and got into the theater just as the trailers were starting. I didn't want to bother the people already sitting "behind the rail" so I regulated myself to the second row above the crossway. I also refrained from buying a bucket of popcorn, but because of all of the calories but because I love movie trailers almost as much as the movies themselves. I mean, they do have an awards ceremony for the people who create the trailers!

SYNOPSIS: Tim, in an attempt to impress his bosses, steps up at a meeting to bring in new business. Recognizing his potential, the executives from the seventh floor invite Jim to their monthly "Dinner for Winners" where each executive finds and invites a guest with a strange or unusual talent so they can be made fun of.

Jay Roach, director of the Austin Powers movies and "Meet the Fockers", brings Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell back to the screen through a script by relative newcomer movie screenwriting duo David Guion and Michael Handelman. Does the film deliver? Read on to find out.

Paul Rudd stars as Jim in typical Rudd fashion, similar to his roles in "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Role Models". He is misguided in what it takes to be happy, focusing on moving up the corporate ladder rather than his relationship with his girlfriend Julie (played by Stephanie Szostak). In his attempt to impress his boss, he agrees to bring a guest to a monthly executive dinner so that the rest of the suits can be amused and make fun of them. Just as Tim decides that this dinner is not for him, karma hits him as he hits Steve Carell's Barry in the street with his Porsche as Barry tries to save a dead rodent from being flattened. Channelling Jim Carrey's Lloyd Christmas with oversized teeth and a tight angular haircut, Carell's Barry is both clueless and well-meaning.

There are two lines that epitomized the film." The first is "... everything happens for a reason...". Because this film is formulaic, the first line applies and is adhered to. We know that all of the damages to Tim's career and relationship caused by the over-anxious Barry throughout the film will lead to a third act resolution. But it is both fun and heartbreaking to see Tim's and Barry's lives unfold as their lives also unravel. Lucy Punch as Tim's stalker, Darla, is particularly funny and scary as she shows up both to Tim's apartment and a business brunch date with a perspective European client because of Barry's meddling.

The second is Lennon's "... you may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...". Barry misquotes the Lennon lyric upon "bumping" into Tim's car, leaving out everything after "not" and serving to sum up Barry's life. His wife has left him for his IRS boss, Therman, due to his passion for his rodent modeling hobby and for the fact that Barry couldn't help his wife find something of hers that Barry suspects was in her purse. Therman, played by Zach Galifianakis, is both less and more manic than his "The Hangover" character, Alan Garner. He is more in control as a master of the mind, but more outrageous. As the story nears its inevitable conclusion, Barry realizes that his dreams and passions are important to him and Tim realizes that he too can be a dreamer. A literal interpretation, perhaps, but rather fitting in the scheme of things.

The film is funny in a silly way, finding itself more in company with "The 40 Year Old Virgin" than with "Knocked Up" or "The Hangover". But for every giggle or laugh, there is a certain tone that the movie is saddled with. It may be the fact that we know Barry is going to be made fun of at the dinner, not as a roast to him, but as the subject of ridicule. It's not unless Barry and his lot are in on the joke that they seem more funny. Interestingly enough, the guests that the executives bring to the dinner all have talents that none of them possess. Whether it's a blind swordsman, a ventriloquist, a psychic who speaks to dead animals, or a taxidermist with an eye for mice in apparel, it is a fact of life that it is easier to chastise unusual talents than to applaud them. But as we also see, there are those brave enough to be as unique as those with the odd jobs and strange skills.

Worth: Matinee or Netflix

I am also trying out a new rating system shown below based on reader reaction to my somewhat complex monetary rating scale. I will give both ratings and see what kind of reaction I muster. A movie can receive up to 5 popcorn buckets. Why popcorn buckets? Because I am a slave to the thousand + calorie delight! Enjoy!

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