July 30, 2010, - 6:13 pm

Weekend Box Office: “Dinner For Schmucks,” “Charlie St. Cloud,” “Cats & Dogs”

By Debbie Schlussel

It’s rare that a movie I thought I’d absolutely hate isn’t bad at all.  That’s the case with the biggest box office release this weekend:

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*  “Dinner For Schmucks“:  When I first received the trailer from the studio promoting “Dinner For Schmucks,” I predicted it would be awful, and I criticized the title.  I stand by the second part, as the proper title should be, “Dinner For Schlemiels.”  The New York Times quoted me on that point and backed me up.

But now that I’ve seen Dinner, I have to eat crow a little bit.  I found the movie absolutely hilarious.  Yes, it’s raunchy and lewd.  And no way should this movie have the PG-13 the ratings board gave it–do not allow your kids to see it.  But it’s really not a bad movie.  Some parts are stupid, some slow and ridiculous, some way too vulgar–this ain’t for prudes.  But overall, I liked the message at the end, and I laughed along the way to get there.  I also looooooved the way it made fun of pretentious, New Age “modern art” and the “artist” phonies who make it.

This movie is based on the French original, “Le Diner de Cons.”  The story:  a guy (Paul Rudd) who is an up-and-comer in the financial industry works for a company which buys distressed companies, takes ‘em apart, and sells them off to make money.  He gets the chance at a promotion when he gets his foot in the door with a Swiss bomb factory owner and royal who has a lot of money.  But there’s a condition on the promotion.  Rudd has to attend a monthly dinner his boss holds, at which each attendee must bring a complete geek or social misfit whom they make fun of.

When Rudd’s girlfriend–whom he wants to marry–learns of it, she forbids him to attend and gets upset with him over it.  Meanwhile, Rudd meets a complete misfit IRS examiner (Steve Carell), who makes detailed, picturesque scenes out of dead mice.  Soon, Rudd is roped into going and on the outs with his girlfriend because of a misunderstanding over a female Stalker.  And Rudd is worried about his girlfriend’s amorous, arrogant New Age modern artist, whose exhibits she is curating.

Like I said, funny, sometimes slow and seemingly ad-libbed, and sometimes too raunchy.  But overall, entertaining and not bad.

TWO REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “Charlie St. Cloud“: This movie was mostly charming and touching, if predictable and somewhat formulaic. But did they really need to throw in a vulgar, gratuitous reference to masturbation? And sex by the main character in a cemetery was creepy . . . not to mention the fact that it’s with a ghost. Still, I found it an entertaining and enjoyable movie about how sometimes you need to let go, move on from tragedy, and live life, even if it was somewhat maudlin.

Zac Efron (my favorite All-American Jewish actor) shows his ever-ranging acting chops in this love story, mostly about the love between brothers. Efron plays a skilled and smart high school athlete son of a single mother (Kim Basinger). He and his little brother are close, and he’s getting ready to head off to Stanford, where he’s scored a sailing scholarship. But things never go as planned. And on his way to a graduation party, with his brother in the car, they get into a car accident. Efron lives, thanks to the sticktuitiveness of paramedic Ray Liotta, but his little brother dies, and Efron is devastated.

At the funeral, he sees his brother’s ghost, and they make a deal to meet every day at sunset to play catch and talk. Efron gives up his dreams and scholarship to live at the cemetery as its caretaker and spend each day at sunset with his brother, letting life pass him by. But life goes on, and a female sailor catches his eye.

Does he move on, or is he stuck in a world of talking to ghosts, and “I see dead people”?

ONE-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

* “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore“: This movie is aimed at kids, so if you are an adult, you will probably have my reaction. It was funny and cute at first, but it seems long and gets old fast. But for kids, it’s fine. And it’s in 3D, which wasn’t necessary. I did love the Road Runner cartoon that precedes the movie and the 3D with that was fantastic.

The story: Kitty Galore, a rogue agent cat who has become a villain, sneaks into top secret headquarters to unleash a satellite signal that will make all of the world’s dogs go wild against their owners. It will destroy the world. So secret agent dogs (who previously tracked “radical felinism”) and secret agent dogs–both of whom normally hate each other–have banded together to stop Kitty and save the world. Lots of celebrities voice the dogs and cats.

ONE REAGAN (for kids)
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Watch the trailer . . .

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22 Responses

I sat through the first 45 minutes of the movie and did not laugh one single time, so i left. Don’t waste your money on this flick. The screenwriting was garbage and the timing was horrible.

If you have seen the previews, then you have seen the movie. Inception is the only movie worth the bucks right now.

Dinner was terrible on July 30, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I saw the original French “Dinner Game” which was both funny and sweet. This looks like neither but I guess if you’re in a certain mood it might work.

BoKnows on July 30, 2010 at 9:59 pm

When I saw the trailer of “Dinner for Schmucks” and saw the antics of Steve Carell with Paul Rudd, I immediately thought the comedic antics of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin and saw the similarity there. Don’t you agree?

Bobby'sBrain on July 30, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Why do you think so highly of Efron, Debbie? I have no opinion regarding him, as I have paid no attention to him.

S: I think he’s a good actor, and not just a pretty face. He showed in this movie that he has acting range beyond the “High School Musical” stuff. DS

skzion on July 31, 2010 at 4:20 pm

???????????

taobao????? on August 1, 2010 at 12:26 am

I have a secret I need to let everyone know…

I’m a homosexual muslum who’s afraid of my sexual proclivities…

That’s why I spew so much hate…

as goes Israel - so goes the world on August 1, 2010 at 12:42 am

Rudd has to attend a monthly dinner his boss holds, at which each attendee must bring a complete geek or social misfit whom they make fun of.

How cruel.

Meanwhile, Rudd meets a complete misfit IRS examiner (Steve Carell), who makes detailed, picturesque scenes out of dead mice

How smelly.

Does anyone besides me recognize/remember where “Kitty Galore” comes from?

Miranda Rose Smith on August 1, 2010 at 5:21 am

Sounds like schmucks did a kind of 3 stooges redo. Love those guys.

Joe on August 1, 2010 at 11:04 am

Saw ‘dinner’ last eve….the movie itself could’ve been made better (some diversions, plot errors, etc) but the laughs are all there and if you want to laugh, this is for you. Carell is great, as always.

Not Ovenready on August 1, 2010 at 11:51 am

Excellent reviews, at least it was not dinner with the vamps or gothy werewolves…it all kinda looks like typical hollywood summer filming. happy sunday gang :)

L on August 1, 2010 at 2:18 pm

I disliked Charlie St. Cloud. Mushy love between stupid people who have sex quickly and moon over each other. No real courtship, intelligence, wit, restraint, or character. Where are Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn (or Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfus) when you need them?

I loved Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore. I laughed a lot. Quick wit; rapid repartee; funny sight gags; continual film parodies which started right from the beginning with the Goldfinger opening credits and continued through many others. Also there was a conservative subtext which included, for example, tacit approval of “soft torture,” as it’s known. James Marsden in the lead was just okay, but Nick Nolte (especially), Christina Applegate and Bette Midler were fantastic support.

I’m glad you changed your mind about Dinner For Schmucks, Debbie. Occasionally uneven, but lots of good laughs all the way through, just as you said. Clement was hilarious as the pretentious, New Age artist (he was good in Gentleman Broncos from last year, too). And I liked the fact that despite the fact the top executives at the company were schmucks (that’s maybe whom the title ironically referred to, not the eccentric boobs invited as guests), that corporations in general weren’t broadly demonized. That is, Paul Rudd is attractive as a successful, ambitious sales worker and it’s not capitalism that’s put down in the movie, but the executive arrogance at this particular company.

Todd Solondz has come out with his latest anti-Jewish movie (his first film in six years). I saw it and didn’t like it much. It is a sequel to his earlier Happiness which centers around a Jewish dentist’s pedaphilia. This latest movie received a 72% rating from Rotten Tomatoes and satirizes what Solondz asserts are “stupid” ideas like going to Israel to be buried and thinking the Muslims who attacked the Twin Towers were “evil” and shouldn’t be forgiven. The film is a harsh, left-wing attack on Jewish conservatives.

Burke on August 1, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Dear Burke: Where are Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn (or Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfus) when you need them?

    Try Clark Gable and Carole Lombard in NO MAN OF HER OWN (1932.)

    I loved Cats & Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore. I laughed a lot. Quick wit; rapid repartee; funny sight gags; continual film parodies which started right from the beginning with the Goldfinger opening credits and continued through many others.

    “Kitty Galore” is, of course, a takeoff on Pussy Galore, the Goldfinger Bond girl.

    Miranda Rose Smith on August 2, 2010 at 2:02 am

re: ” Pussy Galore”
When the James Bond franchise was hot during the 60’s, Sears Roebuck sold plenty of 007 playsets. Listing the names of the 007 characters in their Christmas catalog was easy…….until they came to Pussy Galore.

No way was THAT name appearing in their catalog.

They eventually settled on listing her as ‘James Bond’s girlfriend’.

guitarguy on August 2, 2010 at 10:45 am

I thought Zac Efron was a public Athiest,so not Jewish?

Gordito on August 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Zac’s a Jewish Agnostic, not an Atheist (I think there’s a difference between agnostic and atheist).

Jenny on August 2, 2010 at 2:55 pm

And all this time when I heard the movie title, “Dinner with the Schmucks”, I thought it was a documentary about the weekly presidential dinner parties with Barry and Michelle. My bad???

Patspfs on August 2, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Sorry. Correction: “Dinner for Schmucks” … but what is the difference?

Patspfs on August 2, 2010 at 11:55 pm

OK, so now I need to know – you mentioned sex in a cemetary with a ghost? The only ghost mentioned in this movie is the main character’s prepubescent brother….so either there’s a significant plot twist that we’re not getting OR this is a whole different kind of movie than I thought.

hellcat on August 4, 2010 at 11:11 am

Mentioning sex with a ghost, I remember a story of Incubus an act of having sex with an evil ghost,. Afraid

gay4greek on July 1, 2011 at 9:45 am

Zac Efron’s paternal grandfather was Jewish and his other grandparents were not Jewish.

dee on October 18, 2011 at 1:30 pm

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