Dinner for Schmucks

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Dinner for Schmucks
Steve Carell grinning maniacally stares from over Paul Rudd's shoulder
Theatrical poster
Directed by Jay Roach
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • David Guion
  • Michael Handelman
Based on Le Dîner de Cons 
by Francis Veber
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography Jim Deult
Edited by Alan Baumgarten
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s)
  • July 30, 2010 (2010-07-30)
Running time 114 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $69 million[2][3]
Box office $86,406,677[3]

Dinner for Schmucks (also known as Dinner with Schmucks) is a 2010 American screwball comedy film directed by Jay Roach. The film is the American adaptation of the 1998 French comedy Le Dîner de Cons and was written by David Guion and Michael Handelman. It stars Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, who had previously teamed up in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. The film was released theatrically on July 30, 2010.

Zach Galifianakis won the Comedy Award for "Best Comedy Actor – Film" for his role as Therman Murch in the film.[4] The elaborate mouse dioramas and "mouseterpieces" were created by The Chiodo Brothers.[5]


Timothy "Tim" Conrad (Paul Rudd) is an ambitious financial executive who entices wealthy Swiss businessman Martin Mueller (David Walliams) to become a client of his firm. Impressed by Tim's creative marketing ingenuity, his boss Lance Fender (Bruce Greenwood) invites him to a "dinner for winners," to which Tim must bring a "talented" guest; the winner earns a trophy and the executive that brought him or her gets glory. Tim learns it is actually a "dinner for idiots" and the award is to the biggest "loser". Tim's girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) lands a curator deal for eccentric artist Kieran Vollard (Jemaine Clement). Tim unsuccessfully proposes to her, as he has done several times before. After learning of the cruel nature of the dinner party, Julie becomes upset and asks him not to attend. He agrees. The next day, Tim accidentally hits IRS employee Barry Speck (Steve Carell) with his Porsche as Barry attempts to retrieve a dead mouse in the road. While helping Barry pick up his belongings from the street, Tim learns of Barry's hobby of constructing mouse dioramas and realizes Barry is the perfect guest for the company dinner. Julie is upset that Tim intends to attend the dinner, so she walks out on Tim to be alone and accidentally leaves her cell phone behind.

Barry shows up at Tim's apartment a day early and foolishly gives Tim's home address to Darla (Lucy Punch), a woman Tim had a one-night stand with. Tim tells him that Darla has been stalking him ever since. Barry (to make amends for inviting her) decides to guard Tim's apartment, but mistakes Julie for Darla, sending her away and giving her the mistaken impression that Tim is cheating on her. Having messed up again, Barry decides to help by calling Vollard to locate Julie. Believing they hear Julie in the background, he and Tim sneak into Vollard's home. Kieran, dressed as an animal, is discovered with two women, dressed as birds, in an art "process". Returning to Tim's, Barry finds Darla waiting outside, wearing a suspicious overcoat. Underneath is a leather outfit made of tight pants and a corset. She attempts to seduce Tim, who tries to get her to leave. Tim gets a phone call from Julie, but can't answer because Darla snatches his phone and hides it in the front of her thong. Tim locks himself inside his room as he continues to try to get in contact with Julie. Frustrated by his rejection, Darla tries to seduce Barry in order to spite Tim but fails because Barry innocently fails to comprehend all of her sexual innuendos, which finally gets her to leave.

Barry finds a message on Julie's cellphone from Vollard, revealing that Julie is leaving for Vollard's ranch. Barry, trying again to make amends, suggests that they go to his IRS office to find records containing Vollard's ranch address. They meet Barry's boss Therman Murch (Zach Galifianakis), who displays "mind control" power over Barry. He will help only if Barry will say "You can eat my pudding," which Barry refuses to do. So Therman looks up Tim's instead and informs him that he will be audited, and they leave without the address. Outside, the two see Therman kiss a woman Barry reveals is his ex-wife, saying, "I used to call her pudding." Tim lets Barry sleep at his place. He finds several pictures (with mice instead of people) depicting Barry's life, including him walking in on Therman and his wife in bed which is followed by mouse-Barry tearfully eating by himself, causing Tim to feel sorry for Barry. The next morning, Tim arrives at a brunch with Mueller, making an excuse for Julie's absence. Back at the apartment, Barry takes a call from Tim's assistant Susana (Kristen Schaal), who emphasizes the importance of Julie's attendance. So, he crashes the business lunch, bringing Darla, who pretends to be Julie. Tim is goaded by Mueller into proposing to her, which he does just as Julie arrives unexpectedly.

After Darla smashes Tim's Porsche, Barry tries again to make amends by giving in to Therman's humiliating demands so that he can get Vollard's address. At the ranch, Vollard is attempting to seduce Julie with his art "process". Tim explains recent events to her, but while confiding what a fool Barry is, Barry overhears. Julie tells Tim she is leaving for San Francisco with Vollard. Barry sadly confesses he never knew what his wife thought of him until he heard her talking behind his back. Tim apologizes for what has happened, and Barry returns home to his mouse dioramas. After the loss of his "talented" guest, Tim arrives at the dinner party armed with excuses. To his surprise, he finds Barry has arrived on his own, and is already impressing Fender and Mueller. Barry's dioramas become a hit at the party, making him a shoo-in for the trophy, but unexpectedly, Therman arrives and embarrasses Barry with his mind control. Tim takes Barry aside, tells him everything and, after some encouragement, entices Barry to overcome Therman with "brain control". A heated exchange takes place between the two, with Therman walking away in defeat. Upon Barry's reception of the trophy, Tim confronts Fender, saying he has been on the wrong side all along – he stands with the group of "losers".

As the real purpose of the dinner is revealed, the guests react unhappily and inadvertently cause chaos, resulting in a vulture carrying off Mueller's finger (chopped off by an angry blind swordsman) and the house catching fire. Tim returns home and finds Julie's note that she has gone. Knowing he has lost all but done the right thing, Tim tells Barry how much he loves Julie and how badly he messed things up with her. Barry, seeing Julie has just shown up at the doorway, goads Tim into continuing to describe how he messed up. Barry explains to Vollard that if he takes Julie it will break Tim's heart and people can die of broken hearts; Vollard valiantly steps aside. An epilogue of Barry's dioramas tells how everyone fared in the end: Tim marries Julie and they honeymoon in Paris; Barry enters into a relationship with Darla, does some artwork with Vollard, and hosts a monthly "breakfast for champions" for all of the "losers"; Therman writes a book from a mental hospital; Tim and Julie collaborate on a new museum in Switzerland with Mueller. It is revealed that Fender's company has gone under and Forbes magazine has named him "Wall Street's Biggest Loser".



The budget for the film was split between the distributor Paramount Pictures, as well as DreamWorks Pictures and Spyglass Entertainment. The production budget was $69 million, but with tax credits the cost came in at $62.7 million.[2]

Filming of the dinner scene took place at the same location as was used for Wayne Manor in the 1960s Batman television series.[6]

Dinner for Schmucks is the American adaptation of the French film Le Dîner de Cons (literally, "The Dinner of Idiots"). The film retains many familiar elements of the original, with the basic plot, including the involvement of the taxation authorities and the love triangle around the main character Tim. In the remake, however, Tim is made much more sympathetic (this is the first dinner he has participated in, and he is not in fact having an affair or deliberately cheating on his taxes), and the actual dinner is shown. Director Roach describes the film as "inspired by" the original rather than a remake.[7]


Debate ensued[where?][when?] about the title's usage of the Yiddish word schmucks which literally means 'male genitals.' Debbie Schlussel asked whether the title should have been Dinner for Schlemiels as it would better describe the clumsy character played by Steve Carell.[8] Responding in The New York Times, critic Michael Cieply determined that the intent was to be ambiguous as to which of the two main characters, played by Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, was the intended idiot.[9] In The Forward, Laura Hodes suggested that 'schmucks' correctly referred instead to the behavior of the film's antagonists, the bosses of Rudd's character.[10] 'Schmucks' may be fitting after all because the original French play and movie, Le Dîner de cons, which was originally translated as The Dinner Game[11] when released in the USA, would more literally translate to "The Dinner of Cunts".[12]


Dinner for Schmucks was pushed back a week to July 30, 2010, to avoid competition with Salt and Inception.[13][14]


As part of promoting the film, the website Funny or Die featured videos of Jemaine Clement in character as Kieran Vollard.[15][16]

The film's first trailer debuted with Date Night, Death at a Funeral, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. The second trailer was shown before select screenings of The A-Team, Get Him to the Greek, Grown Ups, and Inception.


Critical response[edit]

The film has received mixed reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives a normalized score of 43% based on 183 reviews, with an average score of 5.4/10.[17] The site's consensus is: "It doesn't honor its source material – or its immensely likable leads – as well as it should, but Dinner for Schmucks offers fitfully nourishing comedy."[17] Metacritic, which gives a weighted average score out of 100, gives the film a 56% based on 37 reviews.[18]

Box office[edit]

The film made $8.4 million on its first day, ranking number two at the box office, behind Inception. The film earned $23.5 million on its opening weekend, placing it second overall for the weekend of July 30 to August 1.[3] Dinner for Schmucks ultimately grossed $73 million in North America and $13.4 million internationally for a total of $86.4 million worldwide.

Home media[edit]

Dinner for Schmucks was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on January 4, 2011.


"Dinner for Schmucks" was nominated for one award


  1. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (July 25, 2010). "'Dinner for Schmucks': a long time between courses". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). p. 4. Retrieved July 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Fritz, Ben (July 29, 2010). "Movie projector: 'Schmucks,' cats, dogs and Zac Efron will all open behind 'Inception'". Los Angeles Times (Tribune Company). Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "Dinner for Schmucks (2010)". Box Office Mojo. Amazon.com. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  4. ^ The Comedy Awards
  5. ^ Lytal, Cristy (July 25, 2010). "Working Hollywood: Making mice for 'Dinner for Schmucks'". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Yvonne Villarreal (May 2, 2010). "Summer Sneaks: ‘Dinner for Schmucks’. Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, together again". Los Angeles Times. p. 2. 
  7. ^ O’Connell, Sean (July 26, 2010). "Interview: "Dinner for Schmucks" director Jay Roach on Steve Carell, Paul Rudd and Sacha Baron Cohen". hollywoodnews.com. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  8. ^ Debbie Schlussel (April 7, 2010). ""Dinner For Schmucks": Hollywood Brings Us More Garbage for Summer Movie Season". Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
  9. ^ Michael Cieply (May 4, 2010). "Much Movie Title Meshugas". The New York Times. Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
  10. ^ Laura Hodes (August 3, 2010). "Of 'Schmucks' and Schlemiels". The Forward. Retrieved August 3, 2010. 
  11. ^ "The Dinner Game". IMDB. Retrieved September 9, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Con trick". The Guardian (London). July 2, 1999. Retrieved January 22, 2011. 
  13. ^ "Dinner for Schmucks Delayed – Runs from Salt, Inception". Screencrave.com. June 9, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  14. ^ Variety magazine, June 9, 2010
  15. ^ "New Dinner for Schmucks Clip and Character Features". Screencrave.com. July 16, 2010. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Dinner_For_Schmucks on Funny or Die". Funnyordie.com. Retrieved August 5, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b "Dinner for Schmucks Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved November 30, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Dinner for Schmucks". Metacritic. CBS. 

External links[edit]