COMEDY; 1hr 54min,
STARRING: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, Jermaine Clement
Of mice and men: from left, Carell and Rudd
Hollywood remakes of French movies don’t have to be a very bad idea and in the case of Dinner for Schmucks, which first appeared in 1998 as Francis Veber’s Le Dîner de Cons (“The Dinner Game”), American brashness is its own crass reward.
Rudd is company man Tim Conrad, who in order to get ahead reluctantly agrees to a mean-spirited invitation from his boss (Bruce Greenwood) to take part in the boys’ club ritual of a dinner in which office players each bring a dim-bulb guest. The person with the most cretinous offsider is the winner, ta-da. When Tim runs — literally — into tax-office worker Barry Speck (Carell), who as a hobby constructs idyllic tableaux from dead mice, he seems to have found the perfect dining mate. But the laws of karma have a strange way of working.
Rudd plays it dismayed and straight as he’s so attuned to doing while Carell, being Carell, is a peerless goof. Directed by Austin Powers alum Jay Roach, the comedy is as loosey-goosey as it can get, with nudges en route from a frisky supporting cast. There’s a sweetness of intent, too, that pushes the mockery envelope only so far. Tasty.