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A 'Dinner' Invitation You Can Safely Decline

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A 'Dinner' Invitation You Can Safely Decline

Movies

A 'Dinner' Invitation You Can Safely Decline

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DON GONYEA, host:

It's time to check in with film critic Kenneth Turan. Today, "Dinner for Schmucks" hits theaters. And our critic says despite an all-star cast and a promising storyline, this remade comedy doesn't earn laughs.

KENNETH TURAN: When I reviewed the wonderful French comedy "The Dinner Game" more than 10 years ago, I worried that Hollywood might remake it. Now my fears have come true.

The remake is called "Dinner for Schmucks," and it stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. It's a film whose noticeable lack of laughs is completely baffling.

Rudd stars as Tim, an upwardly mobile young executive. He gets an invitation from his boss to a very special dinner that will make or break his career.

(Soundbite of movie, "Dinner for Schmucks")

Mr. BRUCE GREENWOOD (Actor): (as Lance Fender) Each of us of us finds a remarkable person and invites them to dinner at Fender's. We call it the Dinner for Winners. Here's the guy that I invited last year. Real life Iron Man.

Mr. PAUL RUDD (Actor): (as Tim) He's an idiot. You invite idiots to dinner and make fun of them?

Mr. GREENWOOD: (as Lance Fender) Mm-hmm. You got it.

TURAN: Tim's choice of idiot is Barry, played by Carell. He's an IRS agent whose hobby is using dead mice dressed as humans to create elaborate dioramas from art and history. These mouseterpieces are quite amusing, but any film where the mice are more appealing than the humans is in trouble.

The problem is that Carell's character of Barry is terribly misconceived. Yes, Barry is a man with no self-awareness and no sense of humor. But instead of being comedic, he comes off as a crazed and dangerous individual.

(Soundbite of movie, "Dinner for Schmucks")

Mr. STEVE CARELL (Actor): (as Barry Speck) Switzerland. I love Switzerland. It is one of my favorite countries. I love your army knives, with the toothpicks. Our countries are not enemies. They are friends. We are friends.

TURAN: He's a pest on a colossal scale, and the least amusing comic character in memory.

(Soundbite of movie, "Dinner for Schmucks")

Mr. CARELL: (as Barry Speck) (speaking gibberish)

TURAN: Even with two great comics, "Dinner for Schmucks" is distinctly unfunny, and a remake that should work falls flat. Thus pass the glories of the world.

GONYEA: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. Find more on this week's releases, including a new documentary about Hugh Hefner, at npr.org.

(Soundbite of music)

GONYEA: This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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