It's Friday night! Time for dinner and a movie. Or maybe just skip it this weekend, because we've got a pair of clunkers. First up is the could've-been-promising Dinner for Schmucks, with Steve Carell and the always-adorable Paul Rudd, who's truly wasted here. Then there's the one that the kiddies will want to see: Zac Efron stars in Charlie St. Cloud as a mourning teen who still hangs with the ghost of his beloved kid brother, which is fine if you're in the mood for a sweet-but-messy weeper.
Dinner for Schmucks (DreamWorks)
Paul Rudd is Tim Conrad, an exec who's got to find the perfect guest to bring to a dog fight party his boss is having -- whoever finds the biggest idiot wins. And naturally, Steve Carell is the biggest idiot. Considering Carell and Rudd's previous pairings on Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and 40-Year-Old Virgin, this should be nothing short of comedy gold. But the movie is a mess, starting with the "mousterpieces" Carell's odd man Barry creates -- dioramas using stuffed mice in costume. Yes, it's as weird as it sounds. The rest is trite -- Rudd's Conrad doesn't want to do this, but he has to score a raise so he can marry his sweet girlfriend -- and condescending and derivative, with Carell's character causing chaos in every facet of his newfound pal's life. Of course, by the time they get to the aforementioned party, the pair have bonded, despite Barry's infuriating quirks.
Charlie St. Cloud (Universal)
High School Musical star Zac Efron ditches the song-and-dance routines for something meatier in Charlie St. Cloud, starring as an over-achiever about to head off to college in this weeper directed by Burr Steers, who also helmed Efron's 17 Again. Charlie's a good kid, and a role model for his too-cute little brother Sam, played by charmer Charlie Tahan. In fact, Charlie's promised that every night 'til he goes off to college on a sailing scholarship -- and there are some great visuals of the Pacific Northwest here -- he and Sam will practice some catching so that Sam can develop his arm; he has a thing for the Boston Red Sox. Of course, that very night, Sam dies in a car accident, leaving Charlie lost and despondent. Flash-forward: Five years later, it's all come crashing down, as Charlie's skipped Stanford to serve as caretaker at the cemetery where Sam is buried -- and he manages to play catch with the ghost of Sam every night at sunset, as promised. Charlie's life is going nowhere until he runs into an old high school classmate, Tess (the boring Amanda Crew), who's got big plans to sail around the world. Does Charlie move on with life and love, or stick around tending to the ghost of his brother? It's a sweet premise, but Efron's chemistry with kid bro Sam is so much stronger than that with his would-be love, there's hardly a choice to be made here. Still, you gotta give Efron credit for spreading out of teen heartthrob territory -- he's not quite there yet, but he's certainly headed in the right direction.
What will you watch this weekend?
Image via Paramount Pictures