Dinner With Schmucks should have been a comedic home-run: It not only stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carell but was also directed by Jay Roach (Meet the Parents). So, how could it not be hilarious?
Yet, critics are split down the middle as to whether this bromantic French remake about who can bring the biggest loser to a dinner party is, well, funny. It looks like we may have to chance it ourselves ...
Several critics, while enjoying the film's slapstick humor for the most part, still practiced restraint in their praise. For example, here's A.O. Scott writing for The New York Times:
Dinner for Schmucks is not a great movie, or even a coherent one, but in nearly every scene it draws laughter from an impressively eclectic array of sources, both obvious and new ... It is less a full-scale comic feast than a buffet of amusing snacks, and while it does not necessarily exalt or flatter your intelligence, it doesn’t treat you like an idiot, either.
And Mick LaSalle for the San Francisco Chronicle -- sort of -- agrees:
Dinner for Schmucks is lumbering, inconsistent, and about 20 minutes too long, but it's funny. It's funny from the beginning, and it stays funny, even as it beats scenes to death and overstays its welcome.
Other reviewers are less complimentary, criticizing the bad translation and -- shockingly enough -- Steve Carell's performance:
Joe Neumaier from the New York Daily News says:
The movie stumbles only because Carell doesn't so much play a character as a conceit.
And Michael Phillips for the Chicago Tribune concurs:
Carell's performance is all tension, a rare strenuous misstep. The character he's trying to play ... isn't a consistent comic creation; he's simply a collection of rubelike behavioral tics.
Are you reading what I'm reading between the lines? It's almost as if the reviewers are too scared to criticize Carell -- preferring to place the blame on a bad script/direction than the acting talent of one of the best comedians out there today. Not that I blame them: I take it for granted that any movie of his will automatically make me pee my pants, although this time around, based on these reactions, I'm not so sure ...
Are you going to see Dinner With Schmucks?
Image via Paramount Pictures