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Dinner for Schmucks [Blu-Ray]

Jay Roach

Dinner for Schmucks [Blu-Ray]
When Tim (Paul Rudd) hits Barry (Steve Carell) with his car, Barry flies through the air. landing on his back. Startled and apologetic, Tim immediately rushes to help Barry, but Barry has already jumped to his feet, nonchalantly taking a cellphone snapshot of the car. They have a comic debate, with Barry constantly raising the amount of money he'll pay Tim to avoid a lawsuit before finally realizing that not only is he not at fault, but Tim doesn't want a lawsuit. After some more comic bantering, Barry proceeds to show Tim his collection of stuffed mice dressed as historic figures (Barry is a taxidermist specializing in mice, you see), even giving Tim his very own Jesus mouse, complete with robes and a little felt beard. That, my friends, is a lot of quirk. Keep in mind that all of this is happening in the middle of the street, though none of the drivers in a rush to honk Tim and Barry off the streets ― Dinner for Schmucks is not exactly concerned with internal logic. The plot: Tim is an up-and-coming executive, pressured by his bosses to attend a dinner where they make fun of oblivious, idiotic guests. He recruits Barry to be his unwitting fool. We've already established that Barry is boundlessly, aggressively quirky, so let's move on to this scenario: at one point, he poses as Tim on the internet, quasi-cybersexing one of Tim's ex-hook-ups, Darla (Lucy Punch). When Darla comes over in a dominatrix outfit and trashes the apartment in erotic ecstasy, Barry acts saucily suggestive. But in a later scene, Barry admits his wife left him because he "lost her clitoris" (he couldn't find it ― perhaps it was in her purse, he speculates) and elsewhere, he timidly makes reference to "the dirty, dirty sex thing." So, which is it? Is Barry enough of a wild man to hold his own against a dominatrix or is he so lacking in even the most basic carnal knowledge that he thinks a clitoris is detachable? One of the problems with Dinner for Schmucks is that Carell, director Jay Roach and writers David Guion and Michael Handelman haven't thought the character through. Most of Dinner for Schmucks is recycled from other comedies (particularly stale: Jemaine Clement as a pretentious contemporary artist, and the reliable old scene where the fiancée walks in on something that looks like an affair and, "no, honey, it's not what it looks like!"), but what sinks the film is Barry, who, in addition to all his inconsistencies, is a true psychopath who ruins Tim's life. Terrible as Dinner for Schmucks is, it's just a few drafts away from being a really sharp black comedy. Blu-Ray extras are the usual collection of pseudo-"documentaries," the best being a profile of the artists who created Barry's mouse people; they also worked on Team America: World Police and made a little movie called Killer Klowns from Outer Space. (Paramount)
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