Posted on 8/07/10 04:33 PM
A by the numbers, feel good comedy, that's light on hearty laughs, but manages to pull out a win, but just slightly.
Up front, I will admit that I have never seen the french original that this movie uses for source material, but I can only guess that's a good thing (For one, I don't like french films much, and for two, everyone says its better than the remake).
However, it's easy to jump into where this movie wants to go. Paul Rudd plays an up-and-coming executive that's looking to get a promotion that will help him both impress his girlfriend and pay for his lavish lifestyle. Coming in with an agressive proposal fresh on the heels of a current firing of one of the upper management, he finds his opportunity and jumps on it.
The boss is impressed, and tentatively gives him the job, just as long as he can pull his own weight at his monthly dinner party that is set up to find the most ridiculous person alive and make fun of them.
Cue Steve Carrell. By happenstance, Rudd's character, Tim, runs into Carrell's, Barry, literally. After a strange interaction, Tim realizes that he's found his 'idiot' for the dinner party.
Quickly thereafter, things start to go downhill. As we're introduced to Tim's girlfriend Julie, her boss Kieren (played excellently by Jemaine Clement), as well as Carrell's boss Therman (played by Zach Galifinakis), we're offered some decent laughs from all, and Tim's life starts to quickly fall apart. This is all because of Barry, of course.
Most of the movie is fairly subdued, but standout performances from Galifinakis and Lucy Punch (playing a crazy ex of Tim's) make up for the slower material.
When we finally get to the dinner scene, things start to ramp up a bit. All the exec's have brought their respective 'idiot', and are put on showcase of their 'talents'. This eclectic group of folks brings the best laughs of the movie, and the final 'showdown' between both Barry and Therman as well as Tim and his rival Caldwell (played by Ron Livingston).
Without going into any more specifics, we see the dinner spiral out of control and Rudd's character Tim regain his conscious as he's forced to make decisions that will affect his personal and professional life.
At the end, we get the entire package wrapped in a neat little bow, which undoubtedly will satisfy the general audience, however leaves a ho-hum conclusion that tries to show the good in everything.
While it was mostly satisfying, I wish that sometimes movies like this wouldn't end with the canned ending that we know that's coming, but rather something that plays to the darker side of comedy. You can feel the movie wanting to go in this direction, but either the lack of balls by the screenwriter to write something like that, or the lack of confidence that the studio would actually produce something edgy, leave you with an ultimately unsatisfying finale that's too polished for its own good.