One of the summer's most anticipated comedies, 'Dinner for Schmucks' (opening this Friday), is based on the much loved 1998 French farce 'The Dinner Game' ('Le dîner de cons'). The latter was written and directed by Francis Veber, whose movies have been translated with varying degrees of success -- sometimes by Veber himself -- into many an American remake, including 'The Birdcage,' 'The Toy,' and 'Three Fugitives.'
Advance word is that 'Schmucks,' directed by Jay Roach, is one of Veber's funnier offspring. It's about a regular Joe (Paul Rudd, straight man extraordinaire) who, seeking a promotion at his cutthroat financial firm, tries to impress his boss by bringing the biggest "schmuck" (Steve Carell) to a dinner in which guests are instructed to Bring Your Own Idiot. Carell's character, a very eccentric IRS employee, is just one of several over-the-top dopes who convene for the big evening.
But what of the original? Is it anything at all like the new movie? And should you rent 'The Dinner Game' even though 'Schmucks' is playing in your local theater? Let's take a look.