Review: Dinner for Schmucks

It’s hard to know what to make of this US remake of a French farce from last century. On the one hand, Verber’s borderline-offensive tale has been softened for American consumption, on the other it is an unrelentingly sex-obsessed cringe-comedy that follows the formula of virtually every bro and ro-mance of the past few years, many of which have starred Rudd.

The story, which has already been transformed into Bollywood and Malayalam versions, tries hard to be topical with the original’s Parisian publisher transformed into a financial analyst whose company is in dire straits, but at times you wonder if you are watching Wall Street, with Gordon Gecko replaced by Dumb and Dumber‘s Lloyd Christmas.

While Rudd is a somewhat bland lead and Clement is clearly standing in for Russell Brand while playing an avant-garde over-sexed artist, the film provides a great showcase for Carell’s brand of deadpan nuttiness. Playing a taxidermied mice diorama-creating IRS employee, the close-cropped Carell (almost a dead ringer for NZ’s own idiot-savant Paul Henry) is a constant hoot, especially when he does things like describe how Louis Pasteur turned cheese into medicine.