Dinner for Schmucks is a sweet comedy about the true meaning of friendship. The movie has a wonderful ensemble cast with Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Lucy Punch, and Zach Galifianakis.
The movie follows Tim (Paul Rudd), who works for Fender Financial,where the opportunity for a promotion has just opened up. He manages to get his foot in the door by getting Mueller, a Swiss millionaire, interested in investing his money with the firm. However, before giving him a promotion, Fender wants to get to know him better, and invites him to his monthly Dinner for Winners – a dinner where the attendees find idiots who don’t know that they’re idiots and make fun of them.
After work, Tim shows up at the art show his girlfriend Julie is curating, and she has big news of her own – she and her client, Kieran, will be going to San Francisco for their first warehouse show. After the art show, the two go to dinner and Tim tells Julie about the Dinner for Winners. She makes him promise not to go, and he does.
The next day, Tim shows us all what a bad example of driving is as he’s talking to his assistant and texting, which leads him to run into Barry with his car. Barry is a kind-hearted taxidermist that likes to recreate art with mice and instantly takes a liking to Tim. Tim, believing everything happens for a reason, invites Barry to the Dinner for Winners, and Barry happily accepts. Unfortunately, Barry gets the date wrong and thinks the dinner is that night, and spends the next twenty-four hours inadvertantly ruining Tim’s life with good intentions, as he mistakes Tim’s girlfriend for Tim’s stalker, invites Tim’s stalker over to the house, breaks into Kieran’s home looking for Julie, and earns Tim an audit from the IRS.
In the course of the movie, we are also introduced to the opposition for both Tim and Barry. Tim’s antagonist is Caldwell, a “seventh floor” executive that’s jealous that a “sixth floor” analyst is getting so much attention from Fender. Barry’s antagonist is Therman, his boss who enjoys tormenting Barry personally and thinks that he has mind control. Through it all, however, is the theme of friendship, and we see for ourselves the qualities of a true friend.
The actual Dinner for Winners sequence was the high point of the movie. It was hilarious and touching, with Tim and Barry going up against Caldwell and Therman. Dinner for Schmucks did not possess any horrible scenes, and for every scene that makes you laugh, there’s another one that pulls at your heart strings. The cast was great. Steve Carell gave an excellent performance as Barry, who was so well-intentioned yet just couldn’t manage to grasp reality. Paul Rudd was very convincing as Tim, who to me felt like a grown-up version of Josh from Clueless. Zach Galifianakis, despite playing the less than laudable Therman, does not have an unfunny bone in his body; there doesn’t seem to be a time that he’s on screen that you aren’t laughing. Lucy Punch pulled no punches in her performance of the insanely mad, sex-driven Darla. I don’t have a single complaint about the cast, however, the character of Julie stands out as odd in my head – probably because she’s the only character in the movie that isn’t somehow messed up.
If you are a fan of the Frat Pack, Dinner for Schmucks will not let you down. It’s the funniest movie I’ve seen since The Hangover, while being every bit as touching as The 40 Year Old Virgin. Unless you’re not a big fan of general dirtiness, of which this movie has plenty, it is a very enjoyable experience.