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Tuesday, August 10, 2010  

M. Ovie Reviews: Dinner for Schmucks

Go see Dinner for Schmucks! You will learn an important lesson, which is that it is wrong to laugh at stupid people. And for that reason, you should not go see Dinner for Schmucks.

Yes, I laughed at this movie, because it had a lot of decent jokes and strong performances throughout the whole cast (if it had been made five or six years ago, the leads would have been Ben Stiller and Mike Myers, right?). But I'm having a little trouble untangling the Möbius strip of hypocrisy that is the movie's message.

Okay, you know I try to keep these spoiler free, but you already know from the trailers that the only thing standing between Tim (Paul Rudd) and a big promotion is his participation in a dinner whose purpose is to mock morons. Alas, his short-fused girlfriend violently disapproves of the idea. But when he runs into Michael Scott's brain-damaged twin Barry Speck, how is that anything but a sign from God that he's supposed to go through with it?

You also know from the trailers that Tim's life rapidly becomes a cascading series of disasters as a result. And although this last bit isn't in the trailers, you know from every other movie you've ever seen that Tim will discover the truth: the real schmuck is Tim.

But let's take this a step further. If Tim's a schmuck for being even reluctantly willing to participate in exchange for a big promotion (which he sees as the key to a better life and the love of his girl), what does that say about those of us who paid to be in on it? Doesn't that make us even worse than Tim?

The movie also stacks the deck by making most of the schmucks not all that bad. Barry, while clueless and prone to spectacularly bad decisions, is an almost complete innocent whose actions are 97% driven by good intentions. Plus he has talent, even if it's a weird talent. In fact, all the other schmucks invited to the climactic dinner (which takes so much of the movie to get to that I was actually getting hungry) got there because they have some unusual talent, aspiration, or love. None of the alleged idiots is just coasting through life or pissing away their potential. Well, except maybe some of the people who invited them, but that's kind of the point.

So Dinner for Schmucks's mission is twofold: to make you laugh at idiots, and then make you feel bad about it. For me, at least, it succeeded at the first part. But I'm not about to start feeling guilty for making fun of morons, because the money I earn from doing so helps support my family. And furthermore, we're not even halfway through this season of Big Brother yet.

posted by M. Giant 11:14 AM 0 comments


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