DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS

Bait and switch at the multiplex. If you were expecting edgy, mean and
nasty, forget it: they should have served kibble at this dinner,
'cause it's for puppydogs. Never passing up an opportunity to go soft,
Jay Roach's comedy reminded me of a blandified Chuck & Buck, without
the homo subtext. What doesn't work at all is the screenplay's choice
of Exhibit A to demonstrate Steve Carrell's idiocy; in fact, his mouse
dioramas are enormously clever, beautifully made, and delightful to
look at. The villains are cardboard, the girl (Stephanie Szostak)
mails it in, and you'll find yourself saying the punch lines out loud
before the actors do. Plus, the dinner itself comes very late in the
game, with little relation to all that's happened before it. That
said, Carrell deserves credit for committing 110% to the character and
giving him a touching humanity; this may be his best acting
performance yet. — Jeff Schultz

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