Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Movie for schmucks, including me

What was that I said about “syrupy” Hollywood movies (July 30 post)? I went to see Dinner for Schmucks. The film opens with the soundtrack of The Beatles’ Fool On The Hill. Okay, that makes sense. This movie is about fools, idiots, imbeciles - whatever. Or of fools being taken advantage of. And of course the main fool is Barry (Steve Carell) a taxidermist who makes exquisite dioramas featuring dead mice. The movie’s original French version (The Dinner Game) was about how a group of people hold parties and each tries to outdo the other by bringing a guest who is some sort of freak. The object is to have fun at their expense. Dinner for Schmucks is the movie’s American version. Which should have raised a red flag. But, hey, I have to admit (do I?) that I can get sucked in by hype as much as anyone, especially when I see respected critics praising a film. (Shame on them.) In any case, the movie is passable though there were a couple of times I was ready to a) take a nap or b) walk out. And I did check my watch a few times......The real problem with this pic is there is no momentum building to the ultimate dining scene. That’s where I thought the real action would be. Don’t get me wrong, the dinner – finally – arrives, and with it a fair bit of amusement. But three-quarters of the picture is centred on Tim (Paul Rudd) and his strivings for higher rank in his distressed assets investment firm and his unlikely budding friendship with Barry. There are also Tim’s dilemmas over his relationship with his love interest Julie (Stefanie Szostak)......Barry, of course, is the klutz who brings life lessons to his confused friend. Oh, how heart-warming! As is the ultimate “message” of the dinner party which Barry attends as Tim’s guest.....So, the movie may be described as edgy but be prepared for a fair dose of saccharin......I’ve now rented the original French film, expecting to see a movie – a real comedy of manners - that cuts to the chase depicting how people can treat one another. If that's cruel so be it. That’s reality. This film, by contrast, is - yawn - Hollywood.

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