Dinner for Schmucks

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Dinner for Schmucks
Steve Carell grinning maniacally stares from over Paul Rudd's shoulder
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJay Roach
Produced by
Screenplay by
  • David Guion
  • Michael Handelman
Based onLe Dîner de Cons
by Francis Veber
Music byTheodore Shapiro
CinematographyJim Denault
Edited by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • July 30, 2010 (2010-07-30)
Running time
114 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$62.7–69 million[2]
Box office$86.9 million[3]

Dinner for Schmucks is a 2010 American comedy film directed by Jay Roach. The film is based on 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 and grossed $86 million worldwide. The film received mixed reviews from critics, although Zach Galifianakis won the Comedy Award for "Best Comedy Actor – Film" for his role as Therman Murch.[4] The elaborate mouse dioramas and "mouseterpieces" were created by The Chiodo Brothers.[5]


Tim Conrad comes up with a way to get wealthy businessman Martin Mueller as a client. Impressed by Tim's ingenuity, his boss Lance Fender says Tim is a candidate for a promotion but wants to get to know him better. He invites him to a dinner in which he must find and bring an eccentric person with a special talent to be mocked by the executives; the winner earns a trophy and the executive that brought him or her gets glory. Tim excitedly tells his long-time girlfriend, Julie, about the possible promotion and dinner but she is offended by the idea of inviting strange people to a dinner just to mock them and tells him to refuse the invitation.

The next day Tim accidentally hits Barry Speck with his car when Barry tries to retrieve a dead mouse from the road. Witnessing Barry's bizarre behavior, including taxidermy and arranging mice into dioramas based on famous artwork, known as "Mousterpieces", Tim realizes he is the perfect idiot for the dinner. Julie finds out Tim is inviting Barry to the dinner and leaves their apartment after Tim insists on going, stating he has to in order to continue providing for them. Barry shows up at Tim's apartment thinking that the dinner event was that same evening, and accidentally invites over Darla, a girl Tim once had a one night stand with and who is obsessed with him. After Tim angrily scolds Barry for inviting Darla over and informs him who she is, Barry takes it upon himself to keep Darla away from Tim and accidentally ends up confronting Julie returning to the apartment. Their conversation leads her to believe Tim is cheating on her and she once again leaves. After Tim realizes what Barry has done he believes Julie may be at the home of Kieran Vollard, an artist whose work she is selling at a gallery and who has expressed an interest in her.

Tim and Barry sneak into Vollard's apartment but learn that he is at his ranch. The two return home and find Darla waiting for them in the house. Julie calls and asks Tim if he's having an affair and Darla steals the phone and stuffs it down her pants. The call ends abruptly, giving Julie the impression that Tim is, in fact, cheating on her. While Tim hides in his bedroom trying to reach Julie, Darla and Barry get into a bar-style fight, scaring Darla away.

Barry offers to take Tim to his job at the IRS to find Vollard's ranch address, where they meet up with Barry's boss and rival, Therman Murche who claims to have the "talent" of mind control, and has authored a book about his talent. Therman is also revealed to have stolen Barry's ex-wife after Barry caught them cheating. Barry, Tim and Therman have a strange encounter at the IRS office, which only results in Tim getting audited. Tim leaves the next day for a brunch with the Mueller and his wife but Barry crashes it, bringing Darla along pretending to be Julie. Tim is pushed into asking Darla to marry him by Barry and Julie walks in during the proposal. Tim and Barry chase Julie down to Vollard's ranch, where Tim finally snaps at Barry about his actions.

To his surprise Tim finds Barry already at the dinner party, having forgiven Tim for his outburst. Barry's antics along with his "Mousterpieces" are a hit with the group, and he is seemingly a shoo-in for the trophy. Unexpectedly however Therman arrives as the "guest" of another executive, embarrassing Barry with his mind control. Tim then tells Barry everything and, after some encouragement, gets Barry to defeat Therman by using his own powers of "brain control". Feder congratulates Tim on bringing Barry to the dinner as his idiot, and Tim, offended, insults Feder before defending Barry. The other guests then learn they were brought to the dinner only to be mocked, leading to a chaotic brawl between the guests and the executives. The brawl ultimately leads to Mueller losing his finger and prized family ring and Feder's mansion burning down.

After returning to Tim's apartment, Tim and Julie manage to reconcile with Barry's help. Tim is fired as is Julie after Barry makes Vollard realize it would be a problem to have her continue working for him. Tim and Julie marry, Barry gets to have sex with Darla and also does some artwork with Vollard while Therman writes a book in a mental hospital.



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 is a mild cultural insult similar to "idiot" which technically refers to '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] ".[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.


On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 41% based on 189 reviews, with an average rating of 5.32/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "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] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[19]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4:

The genius of this version depends on the performance by Steve Carell, who plays Barry Speck as a man impervious to insult and utterly at peace with himself. He's truly a transcendent idiot.[20]

Box office[edit]

Dinner for Schmucks 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. The film was released in the United Kingdom on September 3, 2010, and opened on #2, behind The Last Exorcism.[21]

Home media[edit]

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


In 2010, Steve Carell was nominated for the Satellite Award for Best Actor for his performance as Barry Speck.


  1. ^ Zeitchik, Steven (July 25, 2010). "'Dinner for Schmucks': a long time between courses". Los Angeles Times. p. 4. Retrieved July 31, 2010.‹See TfM›[failed verification]
  2. ^ a b "Movie projector: 'Schmucks,' cats, dogs and Zac Efron will all open behind 'Inception'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "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. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  14. ^ Variety magazine, June 9, 2010
  15. ^ "New Dinner for Schmucks Clip and Character Features". Screencrave.com. July 16, 2010. Archived from the original on July 26, 2011. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  16. ^ "Dinner_For_Schmucks on Funny or Die". Funnyordie.com. Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  17. ^ "Dinner for Schmucks". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  18. ^ "Dinner for Schmucks". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  19. ^ Finke, Nikki (August 1, 2010). "Nolan's 'Inception' #1 For 3rd Weekend; Carell's 'Dinner For Schmucks' Opens #2; But Zac Efron's 'Charlie St Cloud' Only #6". Deadline Hollywood. Despite poor reviews, the film with its “B” CinemaScore this weekend now is meeting Hollywood’s mid-$20sM expectations.
  20. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Dinner for Schmucks movie review (2010)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  21. ^ "Weekend box office 3rd September 2010 - 5th September 2010". www.25thframe.co.uk. Retrieved April 17, 2017.

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