Thankfully, the moralising sentimentality is kept to a minimum.
Tim (Rudd) is hoping to get a promotion at work, but his boss (Greenwood) wants him to prove himself by joining their Dinner for Winners, at which each executive must turn up with the biggest idiot they can find. Tim's girlfriend (Szostak) is appalled by the idea, and even more furious when she meets Tim's new "friend" Barry (Carell), an overeager goofball who creates elaborate tableaux with dead mice. It's pretty clear that Barry will win the competition, but he'll probably destroy Tim's life in the process.
The plot is simplistic and fairly predictable, with contrived set pieces that are over-constructed to create the maximum possible chaos for Tim. This gets annoying quite quickly and would be unwatchable if it weren't for Rudd and Carell, who both add a level of humanity to their cartoonish characters. As a result, Tim is a nice guy with a thoughtless streak, while Barry is the insufferable moron with a heart of gold. As a result, their interaction is surprisingly endearing.
It also helps that they're surrounded by a seemingly endless stream of nutcases. Amusing side characters include Clement's pompous artist, Galifianakis' mind-controlling taxman, Punch's stalker ex-girlfriend and Walliams' obtuse Swiss millionaire. And there are more where these came from, especially when the fateful dinner kicks off the unruly final act. But the funniest things in the film are Barry's "mouse-terpieces".
Even when the serious message starts gurgling around (about acceptance and respect and whatever), the film remains resolutely superficial, more interested in zany farce than anything close to the bone. It's so corny that we never believe it for a second. As each scene descends into sketch-comedy slapstick and sitcom-style crossed wires, it's cute and funny enough to keep us engaged.
But if the filmmakers weren't going to make it more than that, it's unclear why they felt the need to revisit Francis Veber's equally banal 1998 original.
Run time: 114 mins
In Theaters: Friday 30th July 2010
Box Office USA: $73.0M
Box Office Worldwide: $86.4M
Distributed by: Paramount Studios
Production compaines: Everyman Pictures, Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, Spyglass Entertainment, Reliance BIG Entertainment, Parkes/MacDonald Productions
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Fresh: 78 Rotten: 107
IMDB: 5.9 / 10
Director: Jay Roach
Screenwriter: David Guion, Michael Handelman
Starring: Steve Carell as Barry, Paul Rudd as Tim Wagner, Stephanie Szostak as Julie, Jemaine Clement as Kieran Vollard, Zach Galifianakis as Therman, Lucy Punch as Darla, Bruce Greenwood as Lance Fender, David Walliams as Müeller, Ron Livingston as Caldwell, Kristen Schaal as Susana, Andrea Savage as Robin, Randall Park as Henderson, Lucy Davenport as Birgit, Chris O'Dowd as Marco, Jeff Dunham as Lewis the Ventriloquist, Octavia Spencer as Madame Nora, Patrick Fischler as Vincenzo, Rick Overton as Chuck, Blanca Soto as Catherine
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