Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-05-24
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Knight at the Movies: Dinner for Schmucks; film notes
by Richard Knight, Jr.
2010-07-28

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Dinner for Schmucks—the new comedy from Austin Powers film series director Jay Roach which stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd—has, hands down, the year's most hilarious opening-credit sequence. To the tune of the aptly chosen "Fool on the Hill" by the Beatles, we see the hands of Carell lovingly work on what surely must be his masterpiece—a diorama of a serene, bucolic summer countryside populated entirely by stuffed mice dressed in exactingly detailed clothes and sporting tiny eyeglasses, reading newspapers, spinning on a Ferris wheel, etc.

This insane attention to detail immediately screams "Nerd!" and the audience is prepped for an insightful comedy of manners. Though the movie, a remake of a French farce, doesn't quite reach the heights of the screwball comedy its characters and situations would suggest, it has its laugh-out-loud moments. Each time the whisper-thin set-up threatens to sag, a sequence comes along that kicks the movie back into high gear. And a phalanx of supporting experts in portraying the zany, cartoonish characters—Zach Galifianakis, Jermaine Clement, Little Britain's queer friendly David Walliams, Kirsten Schaal and Lucy Punch—help enormously.

Carell and Rudd are both cast as stock characters who audiences love for being, respectively, the comedic nerd and sweet, charming nerd. Rudd plays a corporate nebbish who wants the office and promotion dangled in front of him by Bruce Greenwood, his boss—so badly that he's willing to go along with the boss and his toadies when they invite him to their annual dinner for schmucks; at this event, each of the execs brings along the person he or she hopes will be anointed the biggest fool. Rudd is even told, "No mimes." Rudd knows it's morally reprehensible but even when his comely girlfriend, who reps a crazy but big-time artist urges him to drop out of the competition, Rudd can't do it.

That's because he's found Carell—an IRS agent with reddish hair and buck teeth—who spends all his time picking up dead mice on the street and using them in his dioramas. Carell plays such a goof; he's such a bland nerd that his computer password is "password" but it turns out, of course, that he has heart that shines through his dimwitted noggin. The relationship between the two recalls a spate of other pictures with a similar trajectory—The Cable Guy; Planes, Trains & Automobiles, etc.—and though nothing in the material offers either Carell or Rudd a chance to do anything particularly new or inventive, they are a pleasure to watch.

In the way that Madeline Kahn, Mabel Albertson and Kenneth Mars are the engines that drive the outsized laughs in What's Up Doc?, again it's that raft of supporting caricatures ( in all fairness, they really don't play characters ) who give Dinner for Schmucks its screwball zaniness. It's Walliams as a Swiss biz whiz ( though he's underused ) , Punch as a sex-starved stalker, Clement as the sexually free "conceptual artist," Schaal in the Eve Arden/Joan Cusack secretary role and, especially, Galifianakis as Carell's boss—the IRS agent who purports to have the power of mind control—that give this movie its zest.

The dinner at which the execs showcase their fools—which includes a contest of wills between Carell and Galifianakis—is the expected highlight of the movie, although nothing in the film has quite the blissful stupidity of Anchorman, Blades of Glory or a host of classic screwball comedies that the picture calls to mind. ( With a gender change and a few more plot twists, this could almost be a descendent of Bringing Up Baby. ) Wisely, Roach brings back "Fool on the Hill" and more of those dioramas for a voice over coda by Carell that neatly bookends the movie. If only what occurs in between had lived up to the promise of these credit sequences screwball Heaven might have been achieved. Not quite the four star comedic meal it promises at the outset, Dinner for Schmucks makes for a tasty repast, nonetheless.

Film notes:

—Cinema Lesbiana, the long-running lesbian centric film series curated by Tracy Curran—returns, this time with screenings at the Center on Halsted's Hoover-Leppen Theater, 3656 N. Halsted, beginning with the 1931 classic Mädchen in Uniform. This 1931 German film from director Leontine Sagan, starring Hertha Thiele and Dorothea Wieck, is perhaps the screen's first pro-lesbian romance. Set in an all-girls boarding school, the movie focuses on a sensitive girl who falls for one of her teachers—a scenario that has provided fodder for multiple lesbian and gay movies in the ensuing decades. But Mädchen got there first and its frank portrayal of lesbian desire as well as its anti-fascist message—two years before Hitler's rise to power—still carries quite a punch. In German with English subtitles. UIC Professor of Germanic Studies Dr. Sara Hall will introduce the film and lead a post-screening discussion. The movie screens Friday, July 30, at 7 p.m. ( doors at 6:30 p.m. ) as part of CENTERScreen, the Center's ongoing LGBT film series. There is a $8 suggested donation; see www.centeronhalsted.org .

—As part of the ongoing African Jubilee Film Festival, The Public Square and its partners present a screening and discussion of Pumzi, a 23-minute science-fiction film by Wanuri Kahiu set in a world where nature has become extinct. The film will be screened Sunday, Aug. 1, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at the DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Place. The post-screening discussion will focus on African-American women and science fiction. Nnedi Okorafor, a Nigerian-American young adult science-fiction author, will also read selections from her work. The event is free and open to the public. See www.prairie.org/publicsquare.com .

Check out my archived reviews at www.windycitytimes.com or www.knightatthemovies.com . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Transgender documentary Finding Kim on digital platforms and VOD 2017-05-26
Spacey honored while Billings hosts Steppenwolf gala 2017-05-24
SUMMER MOVIE SPECIAL Aliens, apes, Annabelle all part of summer's box office 2017-05-24
Chicago Home Theater Festival through May 29 2017-05-24
Chicago Underground Film Festival May 31-June 4 2017-05-24
Cinema/Chicago promote Kutza, Plauche 2017-05-24
House-music film looks at gay origins 2017-05-24
Web series looks at South Side, queer women of color 2017-05-24
Entertainment: Mary Lambert, Jussie Smollett, Manning CD, Harry Styles 2017-05-23
Political Animals documentary about four out elected officials on DVD June 6 2017-05-21
FILM REVIEW Alien: Covenant 2017-05-16
Video stories narrate diverse LGBTQ experiences 2017-05-16
Center on Halsted hosts screening of 'Gender Revolution' 2017-05-16
Entertainment: Robin Roberts, Frank Ocean, Jim Parsons, Flash co-star 2017-05-16
Activists at ACT UP movie screening 2017-05-16
Special 'Serial Mom' Blu-ray now out 2017-05-16
Trans film makes splash at Chicago Latino Film Festival 2017-05-16
Web series looks at South Side, queer women of color 2017-05-09
'Lives: Visible' film screening May 13 2017-05-09
Entertainment news: House of Cards, GLAAD Awards, Richard Simmons 2017-05-09
"Secs and Execs" Reunites Lesbian Actress Bernhard with "Roseanne" writers James Berg and Stan Zimmerman 2017-05-08
Cinema Q VI Film Series spotlights queer activism, free screenings 2017-05-05
'Lives: Visible' film screening May 13 2017-05-04
FILM REVIEW Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 2017-05-04
Entertainment news: 'La La Land,' Beyonce, Sam Smith, Oprah Winfrey 2017-05-02
Real Boy to premiere on Independent Lens, PBS, June 19 2017-05-02
RuPaul, Grimm named to TIME 100 list 2017-04-26
NUNN ON ONE: TELEVISION Eugenio Derbez speeds into Chicago 2017-04-26
Filmmakers' fundraiser April 30 2017-04-26
Entertainment news: 'Feud,' Jackie Warner, Luke Evans, Laverne Cox 2017-04-25
Film with trans teen gets restricted 'R' rating from MPAA, petition launched 2017-04-20
NUNN ON ONE: MOVIES Matthew Aaron taps a 'Landline' 2017-04-19
FILMS Putting the LGBT in the CLFF 2017-04-19
NUNN ON ONE: THEATER Chad Beguelin helps give 'Aladdin' its magic 2017-04-19
FILM REVIEW Staying Vertical 2017-04-19
Sense8 benefit April 23 2017-04-19
Entertainment: VH1 slate, Kristen Stewart, 'Stranger Things,' Morrissey 2017-04-18
Documentary About Long-Lost Opera Premieres at Two Chicago Film Festivals 2017-04-18
Two films addressing creative women's movements April 23 2017-04-14
Pride Films' 'Trans* Play Contest' underway 2017-04-12
 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.