Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Movie Comparison: Dinner for Schmucks vs. The Other Guys

Its not often I get to do a comparison piece, but I found these two movies to be too eerily similar and seeing them just a week apart from each other gave me a great opportunity to scrutinize them as sort of a competition. It seems that all “blockbuster” comedies are the slapstick buddy comedies (or some derivative of guys asserting their masculinity in some awkward way). Cases in point Tommy Boy, Caddyshack, Dumb & Dumber…the list goes on and on. Both Dinner for Schmucks and The Other Guys unabashedly follow this genre rule to a clich├ęd degree, but luckily, both know it and wear it out in the open despite the risk of appearing as been there, done that films.

In comparison, both are pretty outlandish. There are characters and situation so implausible that you laughing at the sheer audacity of the movie before the punch lines are spewed. Both have a love/hate relationship between the two leads that for better or worse makes the movie all the more cringe inducing. Both feature a kaleidoscope of characters that come passing through with more and more crazy stunts and quirks to drive home the laughs. I can honestly say that both made me laugh out loud, both had great audience reaction and both were brash, fun and a little on the edge.

In the case of these two films then, the winner was the one that showed a little more restraint. The one that knew which punches to hold back and the one that honestly developed its characters beyond the annoying weirdo and the annoyed shlub that has to put up with him. Dinner for Schmucks has a heap of Physical Comedy. Steve Carell just cemented himself in my pantheon of greatness with his turn in Dinner for schmucks. There are a few choice scenes that will have you laughing with queasy delight.

However, Dinner goes a little too far with its comedy. There are times I felt it was a little out of control, like each joke was trying to top the previous and the end result was a lot of crude humor and sexual innuendos. Don’t get me wrong, a well-placed zinger can say a lot about societies reservation and even make some commentary on our culture in general. Unfortunately, Dinner for Schmucks failed to capitalize on this when it was the film with the plot that shouted for satire. A dinner is held by bigwigs in a firm monthly to make fun of the biggest idiot. Before he is promoted Tim (Paul Rudd) is asked to come to the dinner with one Barry (Carell) putting Rudd as the identifiable character in the film. Unfortunately, we never identify with him because the premise is so dang mean and there was really no reversal or appraisal of the dinner organizers as the schmucks. There is a lesson about dreaming and moving on in there somewhere, but without the character buildup. There isn’t much payoff.

The Other Guys however shows Farrell at his best. I know some argue that Ricky Bobby or Anchorman are untouchable, but in those he played a straight up SNL character, in this film he actually plays a flawed person. Mark Wahlberg is passable as Terry his police partner, both who are absolutely going nowhere. Before going into these pics I was more excited see the Rudd/Carell pairing but who knew a Farrell/Wahlberg would have so much more chemistry. The mismatched pair stumbles upon a crime that may be bigger than they can handle. Wahlberg’s character is itching for a chance while Farrells Allen is content to push paper. What we come to realize is he is hiding some demons that he is afraid might make him revert to a version of himself he has repressed for so long.

As the hijinks ensue, Farrell lets loose with the one-liners and the bickering awkward cadence of dialogue that results in some seriously funny reasoning (who would win between a lion and a tuna). Allen’s obliviousness to the beauty of his wife (Eva Mendez) irks Terry so much it completely throws him off his game. In the end though, the bond these two develop in trying to repress what makes them the happiest sends more of a message than Schmucks ever could. Not that comedy is about message, but it sure helps to have some emotional clout behind those one-liners, and some investment in the characters that are saying them.


Final Consensus: Dinner for Scmucks
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!
Don’t BotherShare

Final Consensus: The Other Guys
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!
Don’t BotherShare
Post a Comment