Dinner for Schmucks: It's a 4

Let me start off by saying I have a profound dislike of the dorky-loser-messes-up-straight-arrow's-life-but-it-all works-out-in-the-end genre of movies. Nobody has successfully pulled it off since “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” There is a perfect balance that must be struck. The loser must be just lovable enough that his shenanigans are tolerable and the straight arrow needs to be just annoying enough that you aren't tearing your hair out when his world falls apart. Here, despite an endearing cast and an interesting, if juvenile, premise, they miss the mark entirely.

    Tim (Paul Rudd) is a talented up-and-comer at his financial management firm. When he impresses the boss Lance (Bruce Greenwood) at a firm meeting he gets pulled into the firm's inner circle and invited to a dinner party. A dinner party where each guest brings along the biggest loser he or she can find and has a big laugh at their expense. (Clearly the boss got beaten up a lot in high school.) Tim initially is appalled at the notion, that is until he meets Barry (Steve Carell) a socially dysfunctional IRS agent who stuffs and dresses dead mice and inserts them into themed tableaus for a pastime. Tim has found his dinner guest.

    I guess my problem with the film is that it comes off as forced and awkward from start to finish. The actors are all likable and it moves along at a nice pace, but everything from the pretentious artist that Tim's girlfriend represents to Tim's stalker ex is ham handed and obvious. Swing and a miss. It's a 4.