Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Barry was Perfect
There is a very specific film type that hasn’t changed much since it first originated. The characters and their relationship to each other is almost always identical, the message of the film hasn’t really changed all that much, and most importantly, the reception stays relatively positive for a an incredibly predictable feature. It is the story of a friendship or relationship (personal or professional) between a sane person and complete idiot. What about Bob? Comes to mind as a prime example of one of these movies. Hundreds of others have followed the same exact structure, including today’s reviewed movie, Dinner for Shmucks, starring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd.
Paul Rudd plays Tim, a businessman with his head on his shoulders. He had a really decent job and a great girl, but he always wanted more. He wanted to get married and he wanted a promotion at his job in order to live the perfect life. It was a “no” to his marriage proposal, but his business proposal got his colleagues interested. So in order to land the promotion, he must attend a special dinner and compete against others for the spot. He must bring an idiot for amusement. Low and behold, the next day he runs into mouse taxidermist Barry (Steve Carell) – clearly, a complete idiot that continually does things that ruins Barry’s life while the two await the day to go to dinner together.
I believe the reason why this movie didn’t receive a fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes is because unlike movies like it, the concept is based around complete nonsense. These movies honestly usually make a lot of sense realistically specaking, but this story was bonkers. No corporation is going to hold a big fancy dinner to invite idiots to make fun of them, it just doesn’t make any sense, I’m sorry. The whole reason it’s used it because the filmmakers wanted to stay consistent with the humor, which of course was stupid humor. What they didn’t realize is that Steve Carell could carry the stupid humor all on his own and still make it believable. If you remove the believability aspect of these films, you get rid of the polar differences between the story and idiot character. It’s that spectrum that usually really helps make the movie unique and more memorable. It’s a shame that they tried to inore that here.
The main story for this film is rather bland when you think about it. Months after watching, trying to recall what the story itself was even about, you may find yourself having a lot of trouble beyond the obvious self-explanatory “dinner for scmucks”. There really isn’t much about the story that’s very special. What you will easily remember about this film is Steve Carell’s performance as Barry. Barry was perfect in every way, but the blandness of the story easily drowns that out. He is random, he is stupid, he is absolutely hilarious if you’re open to it. In fact, I could easily see his character used in Dumb and Dumber as another perfectly unique individual.
Clearly there were some positives to this film that are easily overlooked. Anyone watching it could point out things in the movie that they would do differently. The main issue, of course, was the main story, the dinner. Yes, parts of it were funny if you can overlook the fact that it’s preposterous. What people probably can’t do so well, is provide Steve Carell with a list of things he could have done better to portray Barry…because he honestly did a fantastic job. So was this film predictable? Every ounce of it, yes. Do I like how they did it? I actually did, yes. I just wish they did a few things here and there differently, but I’m not going to continually complain about it. I liked it.