DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, 2010
Starring: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, Jemaine Clement, Stephanie Szostak, Bruce Greenwood, Lucy Punch, Ron Livingston, David Walliams, P.J. Byrne
When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he's invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.
Stephanie Szostak plays the girlfriend in the film to (Mr. How I am a Movie Star?) Paul Rudd. She is the moral compass of Dinner for Schmucks and the one we see in many of these guy bromance films. She's smart, attractive, shows off a little skin and has one of those jobs that .0001% of the population has but over 50% have in the movies. It's the same job that Charlotte York had in Sex and the City before she married the Jewish lawyer. We immediately like her even though we never really get to know her at all.
So why do we like her?
I guess we like her because she is the one we're used to seeing in the romantic comedy genre. The one who is good natured and already has figured out her moral compass in life. So when peer pressure in the workforce or with friends occurs and/or another woman/man appears who they connect with and find attractive with and perhaps want to sleep with and/or the westernized addictions of money, fame and fortune enters the picture.... they are the ones who don't go there because they already know who they are as a human being.
BUT.... if they know this and don't get tempted by the vanities of life, why are they always with someone else who is?
Isn't this a contradiction of some kind? So for 90 minutes in over 100 movies since 2000, we watch a man in a seemingly great relationship with a great girl, do something wrong in the 1st act, lose the girl and attempt to have his cake and eat it to eventhough he keeps sinking himself into a bigger hole in the 2nd act, and then in the 3rd act come up with a plan to get her back by being a good person (what a concept!). And of course she takes him back because she loves him.
But why does she love him?
If the guy doesn't know who he really is, and in the case of Dinner for Schmucks, get tempted to do a bad thing to a good person in the sake of a career advancement, why would the level headed girl love him in the first place?
Do people just love people because they love them? And as the cliche goes, you can't choose who you love as love chooses you? If that's the case and if you believe everything you see in the movies, you sure wonder why all these cool women are with these loser type of guys.
But the movies aren't real life are they?; especially in the case of all these bromances that are coming out of Hollywood.
Dinner for Schmucks is an okay film, but it's a desposital film. There's really not much to learn or grow from in this film and the laughs are fine, but there isn't a classic moment at all where you laugh out loud. So you watch and then forget about it. It's not a bad meal, like say baked beans in a can where the bad keeps getting bad for hours on end, or a great meal where you feel inspired to make the world a better place after experiencing it. It's right smack dab in the middle! So it depends on who's grading the average film. Some will give it a B as others will give it a D. But there can't possibly be a stretch mark of an A or F. It's not that good or bad.
All through the film I kept wondering if there are actually people in the world like this. Are there actually rich people who invite losers to dinner just for kicks? Of course the theme is obvious in Dinner for Schmucks where the actually schmuck might not be who you think. Duh!
In 2002 the New England Patriots shocked the world and won the Super Bowl in a seemingly unbelievable way. Just 4 months earlier, there quarterback Tom Brady was an unknown third-string 6th round draft pick and now he was the king of the western world. The world praised him and his team for being the ultimate underdog who beat the superior talent. Just 4 years later, Brady was a 3-time Super Bowl champion with a supermodel girlfriend (now wife) and your typical good-looking, everything goes right for him athlete. His approval rating dipped below 50% because he had too much. So what happened? He got too successful, that's it. We love them until they get too successful or more successful than us.
In the case of Steve Carell's character, he's actually the talented one that everyone should be looking up to. He's a bit of a goof who doesn't understand society's rules, but either does Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and they are doing just fine. But this is one talented individual who has a big heart. Perhaps too big for this current world. So all through the film I kept missing the big joke because this was the guy I'd like to have dinner with the most because he's the one I can learn from the most. Not the corporate CEOs or the old money playboys without a personality who are in the film.
So, I guess I'm missing the judgement that our society is so fascinated with. I forgot that American Idol is the highest rated show on TV, and does double the ratings than any other television show when they do their audition "let's make fun of untalented people" episodes. We love to make fun of people who on the surface seem less talented than us when we are sitting at home. It makes us feel good for about 10 seconds until we realize that we are losers ourselves (perhaps!).
Dinner for Schmucks attempts at this message but resorts to your typical formula storytelling ways. Who am I to complain or criticize as this film has done very well at the box office. But when will the bottom fall out? When will these "bromance loser guy who tries to be not so much of a loser, but for some reason still gets the great girl films" end? Or will they never end? Does just watching these films give the other loser guys who are out there the hope that they might some day fall in love with another guy (in that not gay way) and get that girl who has that cool job?
Is that what this is all about?