Just including the word schmuck in the title allowed me to enter the theater with positive vibes toward Dinner For Schmucks. I’ve known a lot of schmucks in my lifetime and nothing’s funnier than watching them eat from the next table. A schmuck for those unversed in Yiddish literally means a penis. It is a perfect word to describe a clueless jerk, the doofus who would put a whoopie cushion under your seat and then poop his own pants in laughter.
The movie Dinner For Schmucks features exactly what it advertises. It tells the story of Paul Rudd, a social climber who is invited by his boss to a dinner. If he can bring an impressive schmuck for the boss to laugh at, his promotion is assured. Rudd runs into Steve Carell who fits the bill. Before we can get to the dinner to see more schmucks, we have to deal with an hour of Paul Rudd getting to know and hate Steve Carell but learning valuable life lessons through him. If you’ve ever seen What About Bob, you already know the score. Carell ruins every aspect of Rudd’s life in the clumsiest fashion, but for some reason everyone else finds the schmuck endearing and amazing.
This is not a clever movie. It doesn’t have a single original joke or any smart social satire in its bones, but it is particularly funny. Carell gets you squirming and laughing through some of the most uncomfortably comic scenes since George Costanza ruled the airwaves. Rudd is an appealing straight man and while his love interest seems to be more trouble then she’s worth, they keep her out of the picture enough so she can’t ruin it.
While a lot of the humor in Dinner For Schmucks is born out of stupidity, I find that a lot more refreshing than the South Park/MacGruber/Family Guy school of jokes sprouting from vulgarity or pop culture references. Hopefully this flick will start a craze and people will realize you don’t have to use words like dick to get a laugh, instead you can use the word schmuck.