Dinner For Schmucks

Many filmmaker nowadays do the remake or recycling the old ideas for a movie into a brand new movie with a better way, they said. Well, sort of.

Tim (Paul Rudd’s), an ambitious financier keen to curry favour with boss Lance (Bruce Greenwood)? Barry (Steve Carell), the social misfit Tim invites to Greenwood’s monthly bring-a-buffoon soirée? Or the humble punter who trots along to this re-do of a decade-old French farce expecting it to be consistently funny?

Who’s the schmuck in Jay Roach Hollywoodnisation of Le Dîner De Cons?

Despite Carell’s and a cast of international comedic talent such as Zach “The Hangover” Galifianakis, David “Little Britain” Walliams, somehow it doesn’t work.

That is partly due to a failure of nerve, co-writers David Guion and Michael Handelman balking at making Rudd as repellent or Carell as dunce as their Gallic counterparts. But it’s also down to a change in sensibility, as Roach trying to ramp up the slapstick instead of keeping faith with the 1998 version’s sharp linguistic wit.

Things pick up a bit in time for the formal banquet, but by declining to embrace the essential meanspiritedness at the heart of his story, Roach serves up a bland starter that leaves you salivating for an entrée that never arrives.

Still, in one department, his movie deserves a proper stands up for the elaborate dioramas Barry character fashions from stuffed mice decked out in fetching miniature costumes. Modelled on the likes of Da Vinci’s Last Supper and Whistler’s Mother, these marvellous “mouse-terpieces” are hilarious and endearing. Everything that Dinner For Schmucks should be but isn’t.

Well, I guess it’s time to say non, merci to remakes of superior French originals.

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