Paul Rudd is desperate for a promotion. Moving from the drudgery of the sixth floor to the executive seventh will, he feels, cement his financial status and convince his girlfriend (Stephanie Szostak) to marry him. Opportunity knocks, but also has a price: he must find an idiot to bring to boss Bruce Greenwood’s dinner party, where these unfortunates will be ridiculed. Rudd doesn’t like the idea, but then he (literally) runs into Steve Carrell, a man of such transcendent idiocy that Rudd can’t resist the siren call he represents. But before they can make it to the dinner, Carrell’s well-meaning stupidity threatens to completely derail Rudd’s life.
This is a remake of 1998’s The Dinner Game (Le diner des cons). Francis Veber’s farce clocked in at 80 minutes. Jay Roach’s bloated retread is half again as long, and only half as funny. The Paul Rudd character in the original, played by Thierry Lhermitte, was a superior, cruel SOB who deserved to have his life taken apart. Furthermore, the characters never actually make it to the dinner of the title. The remake, of course, finds it necessary to stick literally to its title, and gives us the dinner, thus inviting us to engage in precisely the form of cruel laughter it pretends to condemn. It also tries to make Rudd sympathetic, and having his character be a nice guy runs counter to the very premise of the film. End result: a film that tries much too hard to be funny, laboriously working every last predictable gag until those horses are fit for nothing more than the glue factory. There are some amusing moments, but this is, by and large, a gigantic, time-consuming waste of the talent involved.
The image is very sharp, and completely free of grain and edge enhancement. The colors are strong, but the contrasts are a little on the harsh side, and veer towards the dark. The blacks, then, are deep, but uniformly so, giving the film a slightly darker tinge than seems ideal. Still, the emphasis is on the word “slight” when it comes to the caveats here. The aspect ratio is 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The high-definition image is complete 1080p with an AVC/MPEG-4 codec
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 provides a nice complement to the image presentation. The dialog is perfectly reproduced, with zero distortion and no being drowned in the mix. The score has a nice, expansive sound to it, without ever being overwhelming. Sound effects are handled well when it comes to the surround aspects, but this isn’t a film that provides many opportunities of an environment (given, for instance, how much of the film takes place in Rudd’s apartment). Still, when the chance comes up, the mix goes for it. Along with the usual language tracks, there is also an English Audio Description.
All of the features are in HD.
“The Biggest Schmucks in the World”: (15:05) Standard-issue promo piece. Find out just how wonderful everything and everyone was.
“Schmuck Ups”: (8:16) As you might guess from the clever title, this is a blooper reel.
Deleted Scenes: Six of them.
Meet The Winners: (3:45) A whimsical look at some of the show’s odd characters.
The Men Behind The Mouseterpieces: (11:36) Meet the Chiodo Brothers, who created the wonderful little mouse sculptures.
Paul And Steve – The Decision: (3:50) This mock show riffs off the LeBron James ESPN fiasco.
A slick, expensive, professional, but overdone and tiresome film that misses the point of the piece that inspired it.
Parts of this review were written by Gino Sassani