¨Vincent Van Gogh: everyone said to him, you can’t be a great painter, you only have one ear. And you know what he said? I can’t hear you.¨
I was expecting great things from this slapstick comedy that featured some of today`s best and funniest comedians, but the truth of the matter was that I left disappointed because it was painful to watch at times. Surprisingly despite starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd there are very few funny scenes. Not even Zach Galifianakis was able to save the movie. All these actors have made much better films in the past and they usually are reliable actors, but this time around they failed due to a very weak screenplay. The movie was actually based on a 1998 French film named Le Diner de Cons and the screenplay was adapted by David Guion and Michael Handelman. Together with director Jay Roach (Austin Powers and Meet the Parents) they managed to do the impossible: turn these hilarious actors into your average wannabe comedians. There is no other reasonable explanation as to why this comedy didn’t work. They merely managed to create very uncomfortable situations and ridiculous characters. The moral of the story seems to be telling us how evil these men are who simply invite the most idiotic guests for dinner just to have a good time, but at the same time that is exactly what we are supposed to be laughing at. So they seem to be pointing at us and making us realize how wrong it is for the businessmen to make fun of these characters, but at the same time we are supposed to be laughing at them for being so stupid. Talk about being hypocritical this is number one.
Tim (Paul Rudd) is an executive who is working his way up in the equity firm. One of the top employees has been fired so Tim finds the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. His boss Lance (Bruce Greenwood) is impressed by Tim`s new ideas and offers him the opportunity to replace the fired Jacobson, but first he will have to find the most idiotic person he can find and invite him for a monthly dinner he and his colleagues share called ¨dinner for idiots.¨ Tim knows this is his chance to impress his boss although he feels morally wrong about making fun of other people. Tim accidently runs into an IRS employee named Barry (Steve Carell) who happens to have a hobby: creating mouseterpieces (he imitates famous works of art with stuffed dead mice). Tim knows Barry is the perfect candidate for this dinner so he decides to invite him. Big mistake; Barry ends up pretty much stalking Tim and following him everywhere and at the same time destroying everything around him, including his relationship with his long time girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak). Julie, who works for an egocentric artist named Kieran (Jemaine Clement), is a very sweet girl, but when she finds out about the dinner she gets in a big fight with Tim. The situation gets worse thanks to a couple of mix ups with Barry and Tim`s life begins to go downhill.
I kept on waiting for the comedy to begin, but as the movie progressed I kept on finding it more and more mean-spirited up to the very end when the actual dinner takes place. The situations just kept on getting more and more awkward kind of in the same way Meet the Parents did, except this time without the comedy. It was hard to root for any of the characters because they were just poorly developed. Rudd seemed like a nice guy, but he would do anything to move up the corporate ladder and get the promotion, Carell was just too annoying and overly characterized to sympathize with, and Galifianakis was perhaps the funniest in the film but had very little screen time. Szostak was the only character I really liked, but she deserved much better than Rudd. By the end of the film I really didn’t care much what happened to any of them. The movie just ended up building a lot of unwanted tension without ever being funny. The screenwriters and director just went way too far out with Carell`s character and it was impossible to sympathize with him. They missed the mark by making his character really unlikeable and irritating. I’m always amused as to how these doomed characters always find some sort of enlightenment near the end of the film and somehow save the day. It`s as if Carell`s character is a completely different person at the end in order for everything to fit in its place. This is a forgettable film and another remake gone bad: definitely worth a skip.