A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this remake of hit French comedy The Dinner Game is anchored by a premise that is, on its face, quite mean-spirited: The main character is invited to a dinner where he must bring someone whom his colleagues can ridicule. Plenty of mockery does take place, but there’s a lesson about conscience and morality buried amid the snark. There’s some swearing (including "s--t") and sexual content (nude women covered in body paint, references to "BJs," etc.), as well as social drinking. Expect teens to be drawn in by stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carell.
What's the story?
Based on filmmaker Francis Veber’s French comedy Le Diner Des Cons (The Dinner Game), DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS stars Paul Rudd as Tim, a financial analyst who wants to move up -- literally and figuratively -- to the big leagues at his firm. A deal he suggests is well-received, but first he must pass the ultimate test: Bring a guest to a company dinner expressly to show off his or her idiocy. As it happens, he nearly runs over the perfect candidate -- Barry (Steve Carrell) works for the IRS and makes painstakingly assembled still-lifes populated by stuffed mice. (They’re actually cuter than they sound.) Barry is eager to make a friend in Tim and agrees to go to dinner, but the 24 hours before the actual event finds the two thrown together in the silliest of ways.
Is it any good?
A Paul Rudd-Steve Carrell production can’t fail -- they are, hands down, two of the funniest men working in comedy today. In fact, they’re so simpatico as a team that they should take the show on the road. When they’re on screen, they’re always watchable, with their singular expressions and easy delivery. The supporting cast -- comprised of such comedic heavy-hitter as Jemaine Clement and Zach Galifianakis -- also appeals.
But Dinner for Schmucks still isn’t exactly the perfect cinematic meal. Director Jay Roach and his actors go for broke in terms of absurdity, but there’s something about it that doesn’t quite translate. (Maybe it played better in French?) While some bits are hilarious, others -- like a side plot about Tim’s sexually aggressive female stalker -- feel like a strain. And some sections just seem downright disappointing; the aforementioned dinner, for instance, is a free-for-all mock-fest, and it’s hard to laugh freely when you're cringing too much. One of the key problems, actually, is that the movie takes too long to arrive at that pivotal event in the first place; by the time we finally get to dinner, we’re not all that hungry anymore.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's message. What's the ultimate take-away? Does any of the positive stuff get lost amid the movie's humor?
Would you be willing to make fun of other people for personal gain? Do you think it would be easy to stand up and do the right thing, even if your job was at risk?
Who are the real "idiots" in this movie? How can you tell?
- In theaters: July 30, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: January 4, 2011
- Cast: Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Zach Galifianakis
- Director: Jay Roach
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 114 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of crude and sexual content, some partial nudity and language
For kids who love comedy
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.