Monday, August 30, 2010


Centurion - Written and directed by Neil Marshall, starring Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, and Dominic West - Rated R

Like the poster promises, there is definitely blood...but little else.

It seems like it's been awhile since a nice, bloody sword and sandals movie came out, so I decided to check out Centurion this past weekend. It opened in a few theatres in the bigger markets, but I was able to check it out via Amazon On Demand, where it is available for rent. I'm not necessarily a major fan of the genre, though I do enjoy some brutal Roman vs. Barbarian action from time to time. It also helps that the film stars Michael Fassbender, Olga Kurylenko, and Dominic West. It helps even more that the film is directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent, Doomsday).

Centurion takes place in the second century A.D. The Roman Ninth Legion is busy with a Pict rebellion, and things aren't going so well. I want to explain further, but I feel like it might spoil it a bit if I do. So be aware, the rest of the paragraph may contain slight SPOILERS. The movie really turns into a survival film after the first act. Michael Fassbender plays Quintus, one of very few survivors left after a fairly entertaining Pict ambush. Quintus and the others spend the majority of the movie on the run, but they do stop here and there to engage in brutality.

If all you're looking for is action, then Centurion should please you. If you're looking for interesting characters and a compelling story, you may end up a bit on the disappointed side, as I was. But let's stick with the action for now. This film definitely brings the blood and the dismembered body parts. Neil Marshall is obviously a fan of spraying blood and I applaud him for that. The action itself, though, seems a bit weak at times. Battles are not staged so much as they are thrown together. You don't see any elaborate battle movements or anything, and that's fine, I suppose, but it would be nice to see two warriors actually have a fight of sorts. Instead, the battles are quick cuts of hardcore violence. No fighting skills are shown, just a slash of a sword and a fountain of blood...maybe a severed limb. I like blood and all, but it would be better if the blood served more as a payoff for a well choreographed battle and less a signifier that action was taking place.

But I didn’t watch this just for blood. I have become quite the fan of Michael Fassbender after his appearance in Inglourious Basterds and his very impressive turn in Hunger. His appearance here led me to believe that this might be a film with an interesting character in it. Unfortunately, it appears that he took the role so he could play soldier, which isn’t to say that his performance is off, it’s just that I didn’t care about his character at all. I was much more interested in Dominic West as General Virilus, though the role was woefully secondary. Olga Kurylenko did what she could as a speechless female warrior and her character’s story was actually much more interesting than the “hero’s” story.

I put “hero” in quotations because this is one of those films that doesn’t really make the case for either side to be heroic. Maybe that’s the point of the film, that everyone is justified in their call to war. But that didn’t really work for me since the Romans were speaking English and received the majority of the screen time while the Picts spoke through subtitles and had very few non-combat/torture scenes. It doesn’t help that the Roman Empire is typically portrayed (and rightfully so for the most part) as an oppressive power. Couple that aspect with the dull main character and I had almost no interest in the outcome of this film.

The other disappointing aspect of Centurion was that it was written and directed by Neil Marshall, a director I have been expecting great things from but who seems to be going backwards. I enjoyed Dog Soldiers and thought that The Descent was great. But Doomsday was uneven at best and now Centurion proves to be his weakest effort yet. I still have hope left for Marshall, but he needs to break out of his funk soon. The guy can still shoot a film with skill. If he could just slow down the action editing and maybe take on a writing partner I think he could produce some very entertaining fare.

I truly wish I could recommend Centurion, but unless you just really need a blood fix, you’re better off watching Gladiator again. I guess it’s worth a look when it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray, when it will be cheaper than the On Demand version I watched. There are bits and pieces of entertainment in this film, it’s just a disappointment overall.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Piranha 3D"

Piranha 3D - Directed by Alexandre Aja, written by Pete Goldfinger and Josh Stolberg, starring Elisabeth Shue, Adam Scott, Ving Rhames, and Jerry O'Connell - Rated R

Was there any doubt that a film called Piranha 3D would get a Kurgan?

I’ve been on the fence about 3D for awhile now. Actually, I’m okay with 3D movies, it’s the converted movies I take issue with, like Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, and The Last Airbender. With those movies, I felt that the 3D was tacked on and served only as a gimmick. It didn’t help that the 3D in those films just plain sucked. Well, Piranha 3D is converted, but the 3D succeeds for the very fact that it’s gimmicky. I’m okay with 3D as a blatant, cheesy gimmick when the movie itself is so amazingly crappy.

Yeah, Piranha 3D is a terrible film…and it’s the most fun I’ve had in the theatre in months. Here’s the story, not that it matters: an earthquake opens up a subterranean lake filled with prehistoric piranha, unleashing the flesh-eating creatures on a bunch of drunken spring breakers. That should sound stupid, but if you’re like me, you think it also sounds kind of awesome.

I have to stress that only certain types of people will dig this movie. You have to be the kind of person who likes to watch the occasional “bad” movie. You have to have a particular sense of humor, as well. That means you have to be the kind of person who laughs at completely over the top violence. I’ll put it this way: at one point in the film, a boat runs over and mangles countless people for about a two minute span. During that time, I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. It’s not that I just love a good boating accident, it’s because the scene was so ridiculously death-filled. I heard multiple people laughing right along with me, so either we’re all messed up in the head, or we understood this movie.

Some people take issue with the idea of “turning off your brain” to enjoy a movie, but I am not one of those critics. I have no problem taking some movies less seriously than others. If I looked at Piranha 3D with an extremely critical eye, then this review would be nothing more than a list of faults with the film. But more importantly, I would not have enjoyed this film at all if I got hung up on the problems with it. In fact, with this movie, I found some of the faults amusing. For example: on the way back from the theatre, I asked my friend if he could remember how and when a slightly main character had died. Neither of us could remember a principal character’s fate. When I looked on the IMDb boards for an answer, I found that there wasn’t one; the character simply disappeared from the movie. A mistake like that is hilarious. It makes me wonder if director Alexandre Aja did it on purpose.

It’s not all about what’s wrong with the movie, though. Piranha 3D gets so much fun stuff completely right that I have a hard time focusing on any other issues. First off, the cast is amusingly strange: Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, Jerry O’Connell, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, and Adam Scott. A few of these are just amusing cameos, but they are great. Dreyfuss was funny as a living reference to Jaws, Eli Roth was perfect as an obnoxious DJ, and it was awesome to see Christopher Lloyd in Doc Brown mode as the fish expert.

As for the stars, they have their moments, but O’Connell and Scott stick out from the rest. O’Connell is completely cheesy as a Girls Gone Wild-type “filmmaker.” He gets to act obnoxious and coked up the entire movie and he’s pretty good at it. Adam Scott, typically a comedic actor, is playing it serious in this film, but he’s doing it so terribly that his performance ends up being the funniest. His exclamations and ridiculous “heroic” moments (his adeptness with a shotgun whilst riding a jet ski was particularly amusing) were great. Make no mistake, though, Adam Scott is a fine actor and I honestly believe his performance here is completely intentional.

Acting is kind of a nonissue in a movie like this, though. The real question is whether or not this film delivers on the campy goods that an exploitation film promises, like excessive female nudity and buckets and buckets of blood and gore. This movie absolutely brings on the nudity and the gore, often at the same time. The action sequences are all funny and enjoyable. They are filmed quite ably as well. I would go so far as to say that the big action set pieces near the end of the film are worth the price of admission alone.

Thankfully, Piranha 3D delivers more than just action. Believe it or not, this movie is a total package of entertainment…for certain types of people. And don’t think that you have to see this one in 3D; that element was amusing at times, but you don’t need a third dimension to have fun with this one.

Random thoughts - SPOILERS
Okay, more on the boat rampage. When the dude freaked out and went on a murderous boat ride, I just lost it for multiple reasons. It was an act of cowardice on a monumental scale. Also, the sound of screaming coupled with a propellor mowing through a crowd of people makes me laugh for some reason. It was so wonderfully ridiculous.

Paul Scheer (gap-toothed camera guy) just disappears from this movie. He's just gone with no explanation. Maybe his death took the film into NC-17 territory or something. Anyway, it was odd that he doesn't get a death scene, but when I was talking about it after the movie it made me laugh, so that's good...I think.

Adam Scott's "heroic" moment on the jet ski was completely stupid, in a good way. He picked up people, drove them ten yards or so and dropped them the water. He did yell for them to get to the shore, but wouldn't it have been more helpful to take them to the shore?

Naked women making out underwater can somehow hold their breath for an insane amount of time. Seriously, those ladies are underwater for a good five minutes of screen time.

Ving Rhames kind of pointlessly sacrifices himself. I don't think he saved many lives by killing a few piranha with a detached outboard motor. It was funny and cool, though.

I guess it's not that big of a deal with a movie like this, but it is pretty ridiculous that the very last shot of the movie is shown in the previews. There was absolutely no need to throw that shot in the commercials for this movie. I just don't get it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World - Directed by Edgar Wright, written by Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright, starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, and Jason Schwartzman - Rated PG-13

This movie isn't for everyone, but it's definitely for me.

Here’s the deal: I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World nearly a week after its release. I know it bombed (or at least it didn’t exactly tear up the box office), and I am aware that many critics, especially those of the online persuasion, sang its praises as loud as they could.

Now, with all that out of the way, allow me to fall in line with all the rest. I loved every minute of this film. It was dork heaven. I knew from the very beginning that this film was made for me. Instead of the traditional Universal Studios intro, there is an 8-bit videogame version of the logo with retro videogame music to match. In a word: awesome.

Before I really get into why I love this movie so much, I will acknowledge that this film is not for everyone. In fact, it’s not for most people. First, it’s based on a series of graphic novels. I loved the graphic novels (even if I only read them because I heard about the film project), so the realization of the series as a film was its own thrill. Second, it stars Michael Cera, who is becoming one of my favorite comedic actors. Third, it contains numerous old school videogame references. When an enemy is defeated, coins appear. Scott gets a 1-UP at one point. The main characters have a band called Sex Bob-omb, etc. Fourth, this is a comic book adaptation in the truest sense. When a phone rings, “Riiiinnnnnngggggg” shows up on the screen. That kind of thing happens throughout. Fifth, you have to accept that supernatural fights break out every now and then, and none of the characters seem surprised by it.

After reading that, you have one of two reactions. Either you think it sounds like a garbled mess of a movie or it sounds like an amazing entertainment experience. I, of course, fall into the latter of the two.

If you’re still reading, here’s a quick synopsis: Scott Pilgrim (Cera) is a slacker in his early 20s. He’s dating a high school girl, but soon meets Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who is literally the girl of his dreams. He has to juggle being in the midst of a battle of the bands while battling Ramona’s seven evil exes.

Scott Pilgrim is not about plot, though. It’s about the little things. That’s how the comic worked and that’s how the movie works. There are so many moments in this film that work so well in their small doses that I can’t recount them all…but I’ll at least name a few. There’s the vegan police, the “Seinfeld” scene, the music (I highly suggest buying the soundtrack), the awesome fight scenes, there’s a bass battle, etc. Once again, that sounds messy, but it works somehow.

I can see someone watching this and getting completely lost, but I watched it and became completely engrossed in it. The editing is jarring, but in a good way. The cuts create a real comic book feeling (and it was nice to see actual panels from the comic used in the film). An example of that is how quickly the movie goes from one location to the next or from night to day. Director Edgar Wright truly captured the spirit of the books. More impressive, he made the best videogame movie ever…and this isn’t even based on a videogame.

I mention the videogame stuff again because the movie is very much inspired by games. If you’re not an old-school gamer, then a lot of the references and sound effects will be completely lost on you. This is why I don’t plan on recommending this movie to most people. But most of my friends will dig the videogame stuff. My common acquaintances, though, I’ll tell them to skip it…or at least watch at their own risk.

The casting is causing an issue as well. Some people out there just hate Michael Cera. Obviously, I am not one of those people. I still think if people check out Youth in Revolt they’ll see that Cera has some chops and isn’t a one-note actor. Scott Pilgrim is another example of his acting ability. He isn’t playing the whiny, dry-humored virgin in this one. In fact, he plays an oblivious, grinning idiot, which is a stretch for him. He completely pulls it off, too. There are moments in this film when he just stares into space with a stupid grin on his face and it is hilarious. I hate to say it, though, but this movie isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about the guy. If you hate Cera, you just hate him. There’s no getting around it, I guess. If your only reason for avoiding this film is Cera, however, I am pleading with you: put aside your hatred of him and give the movie a chance.

The supporting cast backs up Cera quite nicely. Winstead has a kind of beauty that I can’t put my finger on, and she plays cool so well. I can completely understand why Pilgrim falls for her. Kieran Culkin stands out as Scott’s witty roommate. Chris Evans is very funny as the bad actor ex-boyfriend of Ramona. His gruff voice is amusing alone. Brandon Routh (the latest Superman) is surprisingly hilarious as a psychic vegan. And Jason Schwartzman is perfect as Gideon Graves, the most evil of all the evil exes. To be honest, I could just list the entire supporting cast because they all work so well. Perhaps this is just the graphic novel fan coming out in me, but I felt that every actor embodied their comic counterpart.

Now’s the time I’m supposed to tell you what’s wrong with Scott Pilgrim, but I have nothing for you. What some might find messy, I find brilliantly disheveled. The action that some may find outlandish, I found surprisingly well filmed. The music that some may find grating, I found humorous and catchy. I’ll say it again: This film was made for me.

Monday, August 16, 2010

"The Expendables"

The Expendables - Directed by Sylvester Stallone, written by Dave Callaham and Sylvester Stallone, starring Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren, and Terry Crews - Rated R

It's no masterpiece, but it's still a pretty damn good action movie.

The Expendables
has been on my radar for well over a year now. My friends and I have been gushing about the manliest cast ever assembled and expectations were at an all time high. Did this end up as the best action movie ever made? No, of course not, that is a ridiculous expectation. It did turn out to be a brutal callback to the heyday of action movies. It’s a flawed, but very fun movie.

This movie has been about the cast from the very beginning. It’s a who’s who of old and new action stars. Sylvester Stallone (who also writes and directs) and Jason Statham are the two leads, with the rest of the good and bad guys taking on much smaller roles. Everyone has their little moments, though, and fans of any of the actors should come away pleased.

I loved the cast, but a good cast doesn’t guarantee a good movie. The story has to be somewhat compelling. The Expendables has a story that fits into the same world as Stallone’s last Rambo film (a movie I loved, by the way). Some small underdeveloped nation is being abused by a dictator backed by a rogue CIA man. The team is asked to intervene in what looks to be a suicide mission. At first they turn it down, but eventually it becomes more about Stallone saving his soul than making money, so he takes the job. The difference between this and Rambo is that instead of one man against an army, there’s a small team of Rambo-types, and they’re all bulletproof marksmen.

The plot is serviceable in that it sets the stage for plenty of outrageous action. The final twenty minutes are flat out awesome. And let’s face it, the only reason to see this movie is the action. For the most part, it’s handled well. I thought Stallone employed the shaky-cam, quick cut method a bit too much, though. At times, it felt as if Stallone just threw the camera right in the middle of the action. I know that sounds like a compliment, but it most certainly is not. It doesn’t ruin the movie, however, and the last act makes up for it, anyway.

I don’t want to ruin any of the action set pieces, but I do have to mention some of my favorite elements from the cast. First off, Stallone and Statham work well together. It was cool to see the two generations of action stars working together. Terry Crews (President Camacho in Idiocracy) doesn’t have much screentime, but he gets the greatest moment in the film involving a fully automatic shotgun. Dolph Lundgren gets to crazy things up like he did in Universal Soldier. It was fun seeing him in an actual movie again. The rest of the cast is okay, their moments and characteristics just aren’t very interesting. But I didn’t care for Randy Couture. I have yet to see a UFC fighter who can deliver convincing dialogue in a film. The only thing missing from this cast is Jean-Claude Van Damme. For whatever reason, he turned down a role in this film. Hopefully, he comes to his senses for the sequel, which Stallone is already talking about.

The over the top action of the film is what keeps it interesting and entertaining, though. I called this a callback to older action films earlier. First, it’s a callback in the brutality of its action. Heads and other body parts are cut or blown completely off and the body count is astronomical. (I found it amusing that to save a small country; half of its population had to be decimated.) Second, the characters are not very developed. The good guys have issues, sure, but they are definitely good. The bad guy (an enjoyably sleazy Eric Roberts) is absolutely evil. Who needs complicated characters in a movie like this? And finally, it’s unapologetic. This movie claims to be an action movie and it delivers on that claim.

The only downside of this being a callback to the old action movies is the annoying camerawork at times (no one shot action in the 80’s like people do today, and that’s just unfortunate) and the CG. You kind of lose that nostalgic feeling when you see a spray of CG blood. I just don’t understand the reasoning behind those two decisions. But as I said, they are forgivable.

The Expendables isn’t a masterpiece and it doesn’t pretend to be. This film was supposed to be in the same vein as action classics like Predator and Commando, and aside from some practical deviations, it is. It’s not better than the classics, but it’s certainly refreshing to see a hardcore R-rated action movie in the theatres again. I hope Stallone keeps it up, because, in the spirit of the excess of the 80’s, I want more, more, more.

Monday, August 9, 2010

"The Other Guys"

The Other Guys - Directed by Adam McKay, written by Adam McKay and Chris Henchy, starring Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, and Michael Keaton - Rated PG-13

It's not as funny as the other McKay films, but it's still funny enough for a Kurgan.

Will Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay are responsible for some of my favorite comedies of the past few years: Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers. They also worked together on “Saturday Night Live,” where they were responsible for the hilarious “Bill Brasky” sketches. In other words, I dig their sense of humor.

Ferrell and McKay’s previous films and sketches are all absurd to the nth degree. They come off as improv exercises loosely tied together by the barest of plots. The Other Guys is different in that there is actually a plot to follow, but there’s still plenty of room for the absurd. What this amounts to is a film that is McKay’s best directed film, but the least funny of his filmography. Remember that I’m calling this movie the least funny compared to three absolutely hilarious movies, which means that The Other Guys is still one of the funniest movies of the year.

The plot of this film is what surprised me the most. I was expecting next to nothing as far as story is concerned, but this film turns out to be a condemnation of the financial world. Don’t worry, though, this is not a message film; though it did put me off a bit when the “How a Ponzi Scheme Works” presentation started playing during the credits. It just seemed a bit off, but good for them for trying to throw some education in with a goofy comedy.

The majority of the plot, thankfully, sticks with the titular “other guys”: the cops who work out of the office, usually typing up reports. Will Ferrell is Allen Gamble, who is more like an accountant than a detective. He is partnered with Mark Wahlberg as Terry Hoitz, who was relegated to a desk after accidentally shooting a high profile athlete. The characters are an unlikely pair, just as the actors seem like polar opposites. The big question for this movie is if that dynamic pays off. The answer: sort of.

Wahlberg basically plays the tough, angry man who yells at Ferrell in nearly every scene. Some of Wahlberg’s outbursts are funny (I mainly enjoyed how he thought everyone was a drug dealer/addict), but his yelling starts to sound forced after awhile. At one point, Ferrell tells Wahlberg that he is sick of all his screaming and I was with him; I wanted him to calm down and find a new way to be funny.

Ferrell, on the other hand, gets to play a slightly more realistic character this time around, while still retaining enough quirks and one-liners to stay funny. His back story was great and his general reaction to Wahlberg was amusing.

I actually liked the two other heroes of the film much more, though. I’m talking about Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson as the supercops that are caricatures of the heroes of countless cop movies from the past. Their screen time is short but sweet. I was definitely laughing the hardest during their early scenes. I don’t want to ruin anything about the characters, but I will say that “Aim for the bushes!” is going to be one of the few lines that I quote from this film. I think I would have rather seen a full film with those two characters, actually.

Johnson and Jackson aren’t the only interesting side characters. Steve Coogan does fine as a sleazy investment banker. Michael Keaton had some funny moments as the police captain. His running gag of quoting TLC songs was weird and funny. Eva Mendes had some decent scenes as Ferrell’s wife. And Ray Stevenson added some menace as the villain.

This film may not be as quotable and ridiculous as McKay’s other efforts, but there is one element that sets this film apart. The Other Guys is a bit of a send-off/spoof of buddy cop films, except it takes itself a little more seriously than films like The Naked Gun. You have the cops with troubled pasts. There are villains that only seem to always just “try” to kill the heroes. There are even musical cues that sound like they were lifted right out of Lethal Weapon.

Some might find the film a bit uneven when considering the spoof angle. At times, the film seems borderline serious; at others there are conversations about how a tuna could kill a lion. I thought it all worked, though, in a messy “who cares?” kind of way.

The Other Guys didn’t turn out to be as hilarious as I thought it would, but I will say that this movie will probably benefit from multiple viewings. I am quite sure that I missed some jokes here and there. With McKay movies there are always a few random lines that sneak by you on the first viewing. So I may have had lulls in between my laughs this time, but when I catch this on DVD in a few months I may be laughing throughout. That is what’s great about McKay/Ferrell movies: they’re the gifts that keep on giving. So check it out right now if you get a chance, but definitely check it out at least twice on DVD.

Monday, August 2, 2010

"Dinner for Schmucks"

Dinner for Schmucks - Directed by Jay Roach, written by David Guion and Michael Handelman, starring Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Jemaine Clement, Stephanie Szostak, and Zach Galifianakis - Rated PG-13

The Kurgan likes laughing at idiots.

Comedies about weirdoes, idiots, or otherwise flat out annoying characters always walk a fine line. That line is the difference between funny and unbearable. Dinner for Schmucks stayed on the funny side for me.

Schmucks is about a dinner party a rich executive throws in which underlings and colleagues invite the most idiotic person they can find and make fun of them, awarding the biggest idiot at the end of the night. The film is really just about the lead up to the titular dinner. This film is more about relationships. In this case, those relationships are those of Tim (Paul Rudd), Barry (Steve Carell), and Julie (Stephanie Szostak).

Tim is on his way up in the company, so that means it’s very important to bring the best idiot to dinner. Enter Barry, a happy simpleton who takes everything literally…oh and he makes “mouseterpieces”; more on those later. Barry commences to ruin Tim’s relationship with possible fiancĂ© Julie…hilarity ensues.

This film really reminded me of Planes, Trains, & Automobiles. It’s not that there is a lot of travel in Schmucks, it’s that Carell and Rudd share the same troubled friendship as Steve Martin and John Candy. Carell just seems to intentionally mess up Rudd’s life. They play it that same as Martin and Candy did. Carell seems oblivious and even well-meaning, while Rudd becomes more and more angry. Let’s be clear, though, this comedy is nowhere near Planes. But Rudd plays the funny straight man pretty well to Carell’s zany, but redeeming idiot.

That factor is what put me on the positive side for this film. As far as laughs go, there are plenty, but they are not constant. What makes up for that are the likable characters. Rudd is a jerk at times, but I still wanted things to work out for him. Carell is weird and annoying, but I hoped for the best for him as well. This movie could have easily been mean spirited but it has a heart, and that saves it.

Some people might not share this opinion, though. Your enjoyment depends largely on your feelings toward Carell. He has a generally strange look in this film. I laughed at times just because of the faces he made. He also has a few ridiculous lines and at times just makes noises for laughs. I’m not saying all of it was funny, but I found myself laughing at him more often than not.

Carell’s “mouseterpieces” definitely make the character. Carell spends his free time (his day job is at the IRS) taking taxidermy mice and putting them in cute, and sometimes strange, scenes. The sheer oddness of it all should provide a few laughs, but the more unlikely scenes still have me laughing when I think back on them. My favorite was the “mouseterpiece” of a mouse finding his wife in bed with another mouse. A typically depressing situation made cute and funny by the use of dead mice.

That’s not where the weird ends with this film. The supporting cast is full of weirdoes. Zach Galifianakis (Hollywood’s go-to eccentric comedian since The Hangover) makes for a great quasi-villain for Carell. He is another actor who creates laughs for me from appearance alone. It helps that he is given free rein in this one, as a mind controlling idiot.

Jemaine Clement (HBO’s Flight of the Conchords) upstages the other weird characters as an egotistic artist. He may be the most ridiculous character in the film, but I found him consistently funny. But my favorite supporting character is David Walliams as the rich Swede that Rudd has to land for the company. He plays what is supposed to be a straight role with great eccentricity. His facial gestures had me laughing throughout and he’s given some great, and strange, lines such as, “That’s my wife’s favorite finger!” Walliams may not stand out for most, but if you pay close attention to him, you’ll see that his few short scenes contain some very funny moments.

That’s basically it for this film. Dinner for Schmucks isn’t a comedy classic, but it is a solid comedy in a summer that has largely been humorless. The film may not pay off much when it comes to the actual dinner (I thought the inclusion of puppet-wielding Jeff Dunham to be quite weak), but it makes up for it with strong main characters that are genuinely likable. That’s the trick to Schmucks. It’s a movie about making fun of idiots, but it doesn’t condone that. I’m glad that it doesn’t, because who wants to walk out of a comedy only to feel bad for laughing the whole time?