Once the story gets going, it's easy to see how 'Dinner for Schmucks' will turn out. But the journey... That's where the giggles come in, with a series of unfortunate events, an abundance of misinterpretations and some exceptional work by a bunch of idiosyncratic comedians. The film is loosely based on the French comedy 'Le Dîner de Cons' ('The Dinner Game'), in which businessmen entertain themselves by bringing oddballs to dinner and challenge each other to see whose guest deserves to be the object of ridicule.
Tim (Rudd) is a pleasant and moderately successful financial analyst trapped on the sixth floor of his office block. He knows that if he can somehow find his way to the seventh floor his professional life will flourish, and his long-term girlfriend Julie (Szostak) may even marry him. Conveniently an opportunity presents itself when some unfortunate employee from the seventh floor is fired, thus leaving one of the desirable offices vacant.
At a meeting, Tim discovers a way to make an impact on boss Lance Fender (Greenwood): he must bring the biggest fool he can lay his ambitious hands on to Fender's monthly mansion dinner. Fender and his team of directors invite astonishing guests to these dinners, distinctive individuals whose personalities make them ripe for mockery.
Although Tim is hesitant about the dinner, it almost appears to be fate when he unintentionally runs his car into Barry (Carell). This quirky fellow just happens to be a taxidermist, who is obsessed with turning dead mice into well-known works of art, which he calls his "mousterpieces".
Of course the naive Barry willingly accepts the dinner invitation. However, Tim soon realises that he's getting more than he bargained for when Barry hangs on to his new "best friend" for dear life. Yet, despite Barry's talent for destruction, his intentions are genuine, even if every one of his 'good deeds' contributes to more adversities and tricky situations for Tim.
Carell and Rudd are well matched here, with the former handling a demanding role effortlessly. Surprisingly, it is the subplot with Galifianakis and Clement that really steals the show. Galifianakis provides a lot of wackiness, again displaying an admirable ability to do the most outrageous things while sporting a very sombre expression. Clement's character, an insane artist, is a great addition to the story, making us want to hunt down the box set of his 'Flight of the Conchords'.
But, alas, for all the good supporting roles in the movie, there are some weak ones too. Szostak's character is too monotonous to care about, while Punch, as an eccentric stalker who sporadically appears, is not far behind.
While the early sequences consist of unforgettable and impressive comic twists, 'Dinner for Schmucks' loses something once it reaches the actual dinner scene. At the table it is evident that Roach wants us to chuckle at Barry and his dorky chums, but also to respect them as human beings. However, he never really reaches a happy medium between the two.
'Dinner for Schmucks' is not the summer's finest comedy, but for all its flaws it does manage to produce some big laughs.