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Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010 01:02 am

A long but satisfying Dinner

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Steve Carell stars as Barry and Paul Rudd stars as Tim Conrad in Dinner for Schmucks.

The news came out last week that Steve Carell is leaving his hit television show The Office after seven years. While the program won’t be the same without him, this is a good move on the actor’s part to leave while it’s still going strong and will free him up to do more film work. If his latest, Dinner for Schmucks, is any indication, this will allow Carell to take chances his show wouldn’t afford him. The results could be great for those who flock to his films.

Carell is Barry, an overgrown innocent who makes dioramas populated with dead mice and has a wardrobe culled from the $5 clothes rack at Wal-Mart. He’s quite happy, in an oblivious way, and doesn’t realize he’s being played for a fool by his new “friend” Tim (Paul Rudd). Seems his boss has a contest in which he asks his employees to a dinner in which they must bring an idiot along to dine with. The one who brings the biggest schmuck is declared the winner and Tim thinks that by winning this contest, he’ll have the fast track to a promotion. So, he invites Barry to this soiree and chaos ensues.

The setup is ripe with comic possibilities and director Jay Roach mines them all, as well as some that should have been left alone. We eagerly await the introduction of each idiot, waiting to see what sort of stupidity they have up their sleeves. They don’t disappoint as Roach gives each performer plenty of rope and they run with it. While the film does overstay its welcome, especially with the slapstick that emerges in the third act, Carell makes it bearable. He not only is able to make us laugh, he also touches our hearts as he never forgets to remind us that Barry’s kindness is what makes him unique, not his Last Supper mouse diorama. 

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