Dinner for Schmucks
I actually had high hopes for this when I originally saw the trailer months ago, then my hopes kind of went away when it got the PG-13 rating, but I decided to still see it anyway over the weekend...
Big mistake. It was a crude lesson in how not to make a comedy. For starters, as it has been said many times on this forum, movies in general are too long. This film was painfully long. I believe it clocked in at or a little over 2 hours. Comedies should, in my opinion, be 80-90 minutes. Maybe 100 minutes if it's brilliant. Anything longer than that and they are probably milking the jokes too long, which was exactly the case with Schmucks.
Not only was every joke squeezed within an inch of its life, but they were often questionable almost 1970's sitcom type jokes (Paul Rudd hurts his back, they spend 5 minutes of screen time trying to get him from the couch to his bed) (Paul Rudd goes to dinner with an important client, and Steve Carrell acts like a weirdo while the client nonchalantly goes along with the wackiness for some reason). I mean, they were unfunny situations to begin with, but then to have to endure them for several minutes, with characters that were almost impossible to like, I've never walked out of a movie (and I didn't this time either), but around the hour mark, I wondered if I could be spending my time doing something better than watching this.
The most entertaining part was the actual dinner mentioned in the title. Which they don't get to until maybe the last 20 minutes. Instead you get "character development" of Steve Carrell and Paul Rudd, in which you end up finding Steve Carrell irrationally annoying, and Paul Rudd to be unbearably wooden. Honestly, I'm not sure Paul Rudd wanted to be in this movie, that's how it seemed. He didn't have the fun or enthusiasm that he put into his performances of I Love You Man or Role Models.
The film started off with a bizarre title sequence involving stuffed mice set to the Beatles "Fool on the Hill", and that made me think the movie might end up being alright if it stays this quirky, but it just got annoying and I think may have only laughed out loud maybe twice, both of which were during the final dinner, and both involved a blind guy with a sword who was introduced at the end of the film. They should have made the movie about the blind guy, THAT would have actually been funny. ...if it were 80 minutes, though.
I wouldn't really even recommend this for rental. Watch it when it inevitably gets played on TBS, and I'm sure you'll change the channel and not come back when it cuts to a commercial.
My brother was so excited about this film and thought we should see it. I thought the scene in the trailer with the fight at the dinner with Steve Carrell looked so funny. My brother did see it and felt the same way you did. He said to save my money.
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They already made a movie about a blind guy with a sword, Rutge Haur was in it, it was pretty fun.
The trailer looks like Steve Carrel is playing a dumber version of Michael Scott, which is not a stretch. I doubt I would ever pay money to see Steve Carrel in a movie. Evan Almighty was funny for about 5 minutes and felt like Teen Wolf Too. 40 Year Old Virgin was mostly funny, but the supporting cast had a lot to do with that. Like Michael Scott, most of Carrel's performances rely upon other talented actors carrying the extra weight. I doubt Steve will be able to make serious movies, as Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and a few other comedic actors have been able to do (although he may surprise us - perhaps he is only moderately funny because he has dramatic potential clawing its way to the surface).
I think the last comedy I saw in a theater was Something about Mary or American Pie - most comedies are just too one-dimensional and destined for late night TBS as others have mentioned.
All this being said, Jay Roach directed the Austin Powers trilogy and the Meet the Parents bilogy(?) so he certainly knows comedy, but he seems to know the most about Three's Company comedy - double entendre, pratfalls, inducing belly laughter but not anything you have to think about.
Meet the Parents was primarily funny because you had DeNiro as the straight man. Austin Powers was funny because Mike Myers nailed all the characters he played.
I suppose Mr Roach knows what works for him because there is another Austin Powers in the works. But a 4th movie, really?
[Mike Cohen] "I doubt Steve will be able to make serious movies, as Jim Carrey, Robin Williams and a few other comedic actors have been able to do (although he may surprise us"
"Dan in Real Life." Wonderful. Very personal and intimate, no gimmicks. Just a real, live family story featuring nice performances out of Juliette Binoche, Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney (none of these unexpected), and even a dandy straight performance out of Dane Cook. No kidding.
I don't want to oversell this small, indie-scale movie. Netflix recommended it because I like Little Miss Sunshine I think - another drama-ish comedy-ish hybrid with hardly any out-loud laughs, yet altogether succesful. "Dan" is sweeter, though. Nobody dies.
For context, other than precisely ONE Emmy speech, and his work on The Daily Show back in the day, I have hated, hated, hated everything else Carrell has done. In fact, I don't think I've ever finished one of his movies, and despise The Office.
I'm also going to keep saying this, but if you skip "Despicable Me," you are depriving yourself of one of the great experiences of 21st century animation. Killer voice performance from Carrell. That aside, Despicable Me is already in my top 5 Desert Island list. Go as far out of the way as you have to see it in 3D.
But "Dan in Real Life" was really nice. Highly recommended.
PS. Even though I adore Paul Rudd, I haven't yet imagined the circumstances I'll see Schmucks....even before you guys torched it. :-)
PPS. The Rutger Hauer movie Mark mentions is Blind Fury - directed by Philp Noyce...who also directed...Salt! Patriot Games too, as well as Clear and Present Danger, and another dandy Angelina picture with Denzel Washington, The Bone Collector.
"He's blind, but he don't need no dog." Memorable tag line for Blind Fury...hence me remembering it.
Also in Blind Fury, the fantabulous Terry O'Quinn. His great role is John Locke in Lost, but he also had a wonderful short run on Alias. One of my acting heroes.
Hauer is an interesting case - pretty serious Dutch actor with a bit of a shlock streak. Speaking of which, did some work with Paul Verhoeven in their native language, including a 1969 TV series (Floris), and a movie called "Soldaat van Oranje," the most expensive Dutch movie to that date (1979). He spends a considerable amount of it naked. Homeboy is hung. At least one episode of HBO's The Hitcher together too, although maybe more....
Anywayyyyy, as you may have surmised, I watched a LOT of Rutger Hauer movies.
My favorite thing about "Dan in Real Life" was the parts with the cop. They even worked it into the DVD menu.
Tim, What is your current top 5 Desert Island list?
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I forgot about Little Miss Sunshine - that was a nice movie. However Carrel played the weird sidekick, but it was a good role.
Will put Dan into my queue and eagerly await Despicable Me DVD.
Wow, I forgot Carrell was in LMS at all! Just shows you how little impression he generally makes on me in movies.
Not that I hate the guy or anything. I really, really liked his stuff on The Daily Show. He just hasn't connected me with me much past that, and Dan.
Mike, if there's aaaaaaaaaany way possible, see Despicable Me in 3D. I saw it in a small town, less than state-of-the-art set-up and was BLOWN AWAY by the quality of the 3D.
What really strikes me about the movie is the number of unusual approaches it takes. The music often has a trip-hop vibe, the drawing style harkens back to John and Faith Hubley - and, not that it really matters, but it contains what may be the most gloves-off political jibe (delivered in a truly off-hand manner) that I may have ever seen in a scripted feature, period. My point is just that for such a gentle, heartwarming little piece, it takes an unexpectedly unique approach to EVERYTHING.
In a way, not surprising. It was the studio's first animated feature, and they are quick to admit that they had no idea what to expect when they started, and no idea how it would be received. A classic case of making the movie they wanted to see....which of course makes me wonder what they can pull off in their second try.
A wonderful movie, regardless, but sets a new standard for what to expect from animated 3D, imo...
...although it got on my list in 2D....which is presumably all I'd have access to on a desert island....
We should start the Desert Island 5 on its own thread. :-)
I think Steve Carrell has a special place for people who watched and loved the first 3 seasons of The Office. He probably got a pass for a long time based on that. Then you look at all of the seasons of The Office after that, and he starts to get on your nerves. Then he makes movies like Get Smart and Date Night and Dinner for Schmucks, and the Carrell appreciation goes down even more. He sort of plays the same obnoxious, unforgivingly blundering idiot in everything he does. I don't know, 2005 Steve Carrell was up there as one of my favorite current comedic actors. 2006-2010 Steve Carrell, not so much.
Little Miss Sunshine is the best performance I've seen him give so far. Though, even though I've never personally tried acting, I just assume playing depressed and quiet is one of the easier emotions to portray, am I wrong?
But my favorite Carrell movie is definitely 40-Year-Old Virgin. But I'm a big Apatow fan from back in the Freaks and Geeks days. I should check out Dan in Real Life now, I didn't know it was so highly praised, I didn't think it looked great from the trailers. It's been on Comcast On-Demand for a while now, and I've been skipping it over!
This past season, I officially deleted both The Office and SNL from my DVR queue, and my free time thanks me. As the Office continues, it is becoming less of a comedy. Michael Scott's downward spiral of loser-ness wears thin and we actually feel sorry for the guy - that's not funny.
The Office has followed the formula of American Sitcoms:
1. Establish a mix of characters, including the idiot, the sweetheart, the joker, the fat guy, the evil boss, the class clown and sexual tension between at least two characters or perhaps a love triangle.
2. After using up any originality in the concept (disregarding the fact that the BBC version actually originated the show concept), the show just keeps regurgitating the same thing over and over
3. The show jumps the shark, usually by ending the sexual tension, and sometimes with an incongruous episode (Fonzie jumping the previously mentioned shark, for example)
4. The show goes round and round until actors start pulling out to pursue movies and it ends with either a wedding, a wacky surprise ending or a singalong.
The British comedy series usually does the right thing - they know when to stop.
As for SNL, it does the same thing that it used to do, using the same sketches over and over, and/or using the same actors year after year, actors who generally play the same role regardless of the skit. This worked when we had Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Bill Murray type people on the show - not so much with people whose names I can never remember. They should just do the cold open, Weekend Update and the musical guest and call it a night at midnight.
Oh my god. I just watched this on HBO. Can I get that 90 minutes of my life back? No?
The mouse dioramas were cool. I know what they were trying to do. The simpleton saves the day. Nothing new.
Steve Carell has talent. He has proven it.
But please Hollywood stop it already with these horrible movies. I mean it. Do I have to stop this car?