While this film is isn’t as cultured and subtle as the French original. This version is more conventional and broad. The French one primarily takes place in one location. It could almost be a play. Here the film brings a lot of comedic talent to the forefront and they all have the quirky characters to play with, but it all feels like too much of a showcase. Then a actual film. Don’t get me wrong it is fully entertaining and even funny at times. IT sticks to convention a lot by making the ending heartwarming and loveable. Instead of sticking to it’s black comedic roots.
Now I will fully admit. The French film it is based on THE DINNER GAME is one of my favorite films. This film doesn’t embarrass the material as much as exploit it, but respects the material enough to work with it. Originally Sascha Baron Cohen was supposed to play the lead. He ends up only as a executive producer on the film. Instead Steve Carrell plays the role. Which when I first found out I lost faith in the project, but as usual which is happening a lot with Steve Carrell as a lead. He surprises me and really comes through charming me and cracking me up. He is infectious and is really starting to be a performer. I enjoy watching.
The only other member of the cast who really makes a impression is Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Concords. He creates a totally fun and funny character. The rest of the cast feels like they are either trying to hard or not trying hard enough.
I feel like with all the comedic talent involved the film should have been drop down hilarious. Then it is as it plays now. It’s funny but seems like they are throwing everything at the wall and home some of it sticks and works instead of standing behind they’re convictions and doing what they think is funny. Instead it looks like they are goofing off and doing what is good enough for the check.
Paul Rudd is a good straight man as usual he is charming. Never the less and it’s nice to see Lucy Punch in a supporting role in an American film. She seems to be on the rise. I am becoming a fan of her work, But again while the film is funny it is not outrageously funny and feels like it is shackled by it’s rating and story from being as wild as it would like to be.
The film ends up entertaining but not living up to it’s full potential. A satisfying rental.