Steve Carell is back as Gru in Despicable Me 2 – the first flick is something of a house favorite at CreativeJamie.com, so we were eagerly anticipating the release of the sequel… as improbable as a sequel seemed. So what’s the deal? Does it live up to the original?
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NOTE: My Dinner for Schmucks movie review contains spoilers.
Dinner for Schmucks is a remake of a French film of the same name – or so I’ve read. While the American version has a soft side to it, my understanding is that the French version is brutal. Paul Rudd stares as Tim, who is trapped in middle management but sees an opportunity to move up, but playing with the big guys upstairs means going to a dinner. For schmucks. Oh, and its BYOS, by the way.
It’s not that simple – and Ron Livingston is in this movie, who I’m a big fan of; but he’s not in it that much… Anyway, Tim meats Barry, portrayed by Steve Carell, while he’s driving and texting and hits Barry with his car. Good message for the kids: don’t text and drive. I like a little message with my silly comedy.
If you didn’t see it coming, Barry quickly reeks havoc on Tim’s life by instant messaging with his ex Darla (Lucy Punch) and inviting her over (which leads to a ridiculous sequence of Barry and Darla chasing each other around Tim’s apartment and destroying it in the processes) and then mistaking his current girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) for his ex, and essentially ruining their relationship and Tim’s business lunch set for the following afternoon, which leads to additional hilarious circumstances. OK, not really. But when crazy ex girlfriend Darla (posing as current girlfriend as per Barry’s instructions) hands Tim a napkin that reads, “I’m wet,” at the the table, I had to laugh. That was good stuff.
In the middle of all this is Tim’s insecurity about Julie’s relationship with her crazy and famous client, Kieran (Jemaine Clement), which is completely groundless and impossible to take seriously. It just makes Tim look crazy, which doesn’t fit with his character. He’s constantly trying to do the right thing and have it all at the same time, not be crazy… I guess you could argue that this is making him crazy, but he’s jealous of Kieran from the start, despite that he’s clearly a freak and Julie isn’t interested in him. At all. Kieran is a less interesting, less funny version of Russell Brand‘s hilarious Aldous Snow of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek fame. Tim’s conflict with Kieran is similar to Barry’s conflict with Therman (Zach Galifianakis, who I’m already sick of – he has a beard, I get it; I liked him better when he was conducting his all ex girlfriend choir), except their conflict is not imaginary as Barry’s wife left him for Therman.
The climax of the movie is, of course, the BYOS dinner, which also features the final showdown between Barry and Therman, which is mildly amusing… the blind fencer was pretty funny. He also enjoys painting. Someone asked him, “Are you any good?” and he answered, “I don’t know.” That was also good stuff. But for a scene you wait the entire movie for, it’s not that great.
There are some laughs in here, and the movie doesn’t drag. The cast delivers fine performances, but there just isn’t much to work with here. Paul Rudd, as always, does a great job of making you care about his character, but we’ve seen this sort of movie before; we know it’ll be OK in the end, and we never get a sense that it won’t be, which the second act is lacking.
The Take Away: I’m not sorry I saw this movie, but I wouldn’t watch it again.