(PG15) US. Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Stephanie Szostak
In the only sporadically entertaining Dinner for Schmucks, director Jay Roach (Meet the Fockers) takes on 1998 comedy The Dinner Game, about Parisian publishing pals who invite idiots to a meal before mockingly awarding the most ‘exceptional’ guest.
Private equity analyst Tim Conrad (Rudd) makes the right play at a staff meeting and is given the preliminary nod to a bump upstairs. First, though, he must attend the titular mansion party thrown by his boss. Tim motors ahead and nearly runs over oblivious IRS drone Barry (Carell). The perfect companion for such a soiree, Barry is a literal-minded simpleton whose innocent intentions become burdensome when he can’t take a hint.
Once Tim is shackled to this caricature, the mismatched buddy shtick with a tender resolution is on autopilot. The cast is effortlessly wittier than the material they’re supplied with, especially supporting funnymen Zach Galifianakis, David Walliams and Jemaine Clement, the last as a self-important art star who might be equal parts Julian Schnabel and Russell Brand.