Dinner for Schmucks

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Dinner for Schmucks Movie Poster Image
Popular with kids
Slapstick comedy feasts on the nerdiness of others.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 31 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 37 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie shows that some people are willing to do anything to get ahead, even if it means mocking and taking advantage of others. But it ultimately sends the message that doing so -- even if there might be significant material rewards -- isn't acceptable behavior, and there might be a moral price to pay.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Tim is initially self-centered and materialistic, willing to lie to his girlfriend and take advantage of Barry to help further his career. But he slowly realizes that material gains aren't worth the toll on his conscience or his personal relationships.

Violence

A few intense arguments escalate into brawls, complete with people throwing heavy objects at each other. A deranged woman takes out her frustrations on a very unfortunate sports car, leaving it a badly dented, moderately functional heap. A swordfight leads to a man losing his finger.

Sex

One scene featuring three people engaged in erotic play involves nude women covered in body paint. There's also some suggestive dialogue and innuendo; for example, a woman begs a man to spank her, and a man confesses to being ignorant of a specifc parts of his wife's sexual anatomy. References to "BJs" and hookers.

Language

Some swearing, including one "f--k," a few uses of “s--t” and “bulls--t," "hell," "damn," "ass," and "oh God" (used as an exclamation).

Consumerism

A Porsche sports car plays an important role in the film and is mentioned by name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking.

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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5 and 10-year-old Written byMr. Steve July 30, 2010

NOT for younger kids despite the silliness and Steve Carrell

Two nude woman covered in body paint with 'pasties'

A woman takes a picture of her buttocks in panties and sends it via instant message

References t... Continue reading
Parent of a 10 and 13-year-old Written byMidtownDad March 19, 2011

Hilarious, but way too much sex talk

This is a funny movie. However, it rarely goes five minutes without uncomfortable sexual references.

Anyone who says this is ok for kids must be living abov... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byhomealonefan123 February 26, 2012

this comedy is awesome for older teens

this movie is funny. but a scene with naked woman covered in body paint. this movie is about these 2 people who invite other people to dinner to make fun of the... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 24, 2011

Utterly Hilarious, But Also Mature

Point-blank, this film is hilarious. Truly funny. There were moments when I literally felt embarrassed in the cinema because I was laughing so much. But yes, jo... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

For kids who love comedy

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