Review – Dinner for Schmucks [2010]






Basic Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Tim Conrad (played by Paul Rudd) is an ambitious executive who, after securing a negotiation (and the potential business) of Swiss mogul Mueller (played by David Walliams), is invited by his boss to what is known within the company as the monthly “dinner for winners,” (Tim later learns that it is more accurately a “dinner for idiots”) in which each invitee must find a “unique person with a special talent” and bring them to the dinner – the most unique of the bunch is declared the “winner” and the executive who brings him/her secures bragging rights among his peers. The next afternoon, Tim meets Barry Speck (played by Steve Carell) after accidentally running him over. After getting to know Barry’s weird antics and hobbies, he invites him to the dinner the following evening. But as Tim gets to know Barry, he starts having second thoughts as to whether he should go through with the dinner at all…


The Pros: Once again, Steve Carell comes through with a performance that is not only noteworthy, but one that single-handedly SAVED this film. However, while his performance was most definitely exceptional, it was a contributing factor as to why I didn’t like the film all that much (more on that later). Slowly but surely, Steve Carell is becoming one of Hollywood’s “go-to” guys for any and every role – he currently has TWO films in the Top 5 at the box office – Schmucks and Despicable Me – films that appeal to two VERY different audiences. Anyway, back to the pros – there were a few hilarious lines in this film that I’m sure I’ll hear at least once before the end of the year (“I thought the clitoris was in her purse”). Finally, Stephanie Szostak, the chick who played Julie (Tim’s girlfriend) in the film – TOTAL BABE.


The Cons: First off, I was very disappointed that the Paul Rudd of old was nowhere to be found here. Now granted, I understand that he was trying to play a more serious character, but in my opinion, the guy simply came off as very unlikeable – even in scenes where the audience is SUPPOSED to like and sympathize with him. Secondly, the pacing of the film was WAY OFF (the aforementioned “dinner” does not take place until near the end of the film). Next, a lot (and I do mean A LOT) of the comedy came off forced and unfunny – in fact, there were LONG periods in this film where I found myself sitting on my hands NOT laughing, and asking myself, “isn’t this supposed to be a comedy?” And when I finally DID laugh, it was at Steve Carell, which is the final gripe I had about the film. Not to take away from Carell’s performance at all, since like I stated above, I think he SAVED this film, HOWEVER, I think this film sent a very mixed message as far as how we are supposed to react to these so-called “schmucks.” Throughout the entire film, we are subjected to the Barry character’s bizarre antics, to the point where the film is expecting us to laugh at him. Yet, at the end of the film (not to give anything away, but it is fairly OBVIOUS how it all ends), the audience is indirectly chastised for laughing at these “schmucks” when THE FILM HAS BEEN DOING EVERYTHING BUT MAKING US DO IT FOR THE PAST HOUR-AND-A-HALF.


Conclusion: I had high expectations going into Dinner for Schmucks, and those expectations were somewhat let down. While the film looks like your standard buddy-comedy fare from the outside, it’s actually a film that really doesn’t know whether it wants to be pro-or-anti-“schmuck” – in other words, lacking an consistent identity (much like TNA Wrestling, but that’s another issue altogether). Yet, through that mess, Steve Carell delivers YET ANOTHER terrific performance that gives life to what would otherwise have been a mundane character. Recommended for Steve Carell fans only – otherwise, WAIT FOR THE DVD.




Final Score: *** (3/5)




Look out for my review of Salt, starring Angelina Jolie, tomorrow afternoon (8/05).


Until then, I’m out!

Interview with TEW Developer Adam Ryland




The following is an email interview I conducted with Adam Ryland, developer of the acclaimed pro wrestling booker sim Total Extreme Wrestling 2010, Adam’s answers are in bold:


————


Chess: Thank you for taking the time to do this email style interview for Superfriends Universe, I hope by the end of it the fans know just a little more about not only yourself, but the Total Extreme Wrestling series as well. With that, lets get started!


Chess: Why did you start developing text based wrestling booker sims in the first place? What made you WANT to create the games?


Adam Ryland: The series originally began as a physical card game, created in the early 1990s. As it expanded, it became too complex to continue in that medium. As a result, it was computerised and the series grew from there. The original version was created simply because I was a wrestling fan and thought it’d be interesting to do.


Chess:Your first projects were absolutely free, when did you realize that you could make some real money out of this?


Adam Ryland: Shortly after I was an offered a contract to work professionally.


Chess: Did you receive any fan backlash for dumping the freeware format?


Adam Ryland: Yes, there was a severe backlash from people who believed they were entitled to continuing freeware games because they had “supported” the series by playing them. To this day, I do not follow the logic of their argument.


Chess: With the creation of TEW came the loss of being able to use real names, likenesses, and promotions. For those who don’t know, TEW comes with a complete fantasy world, however this doesn’t seem to turn many off from buying the game. What are your thoughts on the C-Verse and how would you respond to those who can’t get into it?


Adam Ryland: The CornellVerse is a rich and detailed fantasy game world, loosely based on reality, that comes with all my games. For the most part, it is very popular, and it seems to be played as much (if not more) than real world scenarios. As with almost any product, there are some who cannot get into the default data – but equally, there are many who can’t play real world versions either, so it evens out. There are a healthy number of “mods” (user-created scenarios) that simulate the real world anyway, so nobody is forced to play in a game world they don’t like.


Chess: The latest version of your acclaimed wrestling booker sim, TEW 2010, came out earlier this year. Can you explain why every wrestling fan reading this should check out the game? Where is it available?


Adam Ryland: TEW2010 is available from www.GreyDogSoftware.com and is the fifth game in the series. It is available for PC, and can also be played on a Mac (using emulators). I think it is generally accepted to be the most detailed “booking sim” available; that is, a game in which you play as the owner \ match-maker for a company and it is clear that the matches are scripted with pre-determined winners and losers. There is a free demo that allows people to try before they buy.


Chess: I know it’ll be hard to pick just one, but what is your favorite new feature in TEW2010?


Adam Ryland: I enjoyed creating the new morale system, which attempts to simulate the backstage atmosphere of a locker room and requires the player to carefully balance the different personalities involved.


Chess: What are some of the other games you’ve developed that are currently for sale?


Adam Ryland: My two other series are Wrestling Spirit, in which you play as a wrestler in a game world where pro wrestling is treated as being real, and World of Mixed Martial Arts, which does for MMA what TEW does for wrestling.


Chess: Many fans have suggested online multiplayer for a future TEW release, is this at all possible and have you considered it?


Adam Ryland: It is not currently a viable feature.


Chess: What are your plans for the future, TEW related or not?


Adam Ryland: My next product will be World of Mixed Martial Arts III, which will be coming out shortly before Christmas, again from www.GreyDogSoftware.com.


Chess: Any last words or plugs you’d like to give out?


Adam Ryland: No, thank you. Thanks for taking the time to interview me.

DVD of the Day: The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)




The Man With The Golden Gun


A duel between titans… my golden gun against your Walther PPK.
One bullet against my six?
I only need one, Mr. Bond.



The Stats
The Director:  Guy Hamilton

The Cast:  Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Herve Villechaize
The Release Date: 1974
The Runtime: 125 Minutes


The Plot

James Bond investigates a notorious assassin, Francisco Scaramanga… or, the Man with the Golden Gun.

The Lowdown

Yeah, I know… another Bond movie. But I’ve been watching a lot of Bond movies recently. So, screw it, here’s another one. (Besides, we’re all men here. Who doesn’t love Bond?)


So, I’m assuming most of you have played Goldeneye for the N64. If you haven’t… well, reach into your pants and see if your testicles are still there. It only happens to be one of the best games ever. And what makes it so damn fun is the player vs player mode when you can run around military bases and shoot your buddy’s head off. Ah, such innocent fun. Well, one of the modes in the game is “Golden Gun.” In this mode you have to find the Golden Gun and when you shoot your opponent, one shot is all it takes because then the SOB is dead.


Well, they got that concept from this movie. The golden gun in question belongs to Francisco Scaramanga, an international hitman with an island full of gadgets, half-naked women and a midget. Scaramanga uses said golden gun to kill his targets, and he NEVER misses. One shot is all it takes. So, this makes him already one of the coolest f’ing Bond villains ever right? Well it gets better, because the Man with the Golden Gun is played by none other than Christopher fucking Lee. Yeah. Chew on that one.


It’s not a perfect Bond movie, by any stretch of the imagination. It is Roger Moore after all, so expect lots of goofy campy fun. But really you’re watching this movie for Christopher Lee playing the heavy. Can’t get much better than that.


Do yourself a favor and throw this in your Netflix queue. Or if you can’t be bothered, there’s a Bond marathon seemingly every few months… watch it when it comes on.

Weekend News Update: Jersey Shore, Men In Black III, Boxing & More

– The Jersey Shore’s Season 2 Premier broke records as the highest rated MTV show in 7 years with almost 6 million viewers on Thursday. Hey – something people CARE about on Thursday!


– While the fiscal numbers for Capcom and Nintendo came in as extremely disappointing, Sega on the other hand shockingly pulled a profit of 7 billion yen, due to their monstrous arcade business. Hilarious that Sega eeks out a win over Nintendo in 2010 – even though they aren’t competitors. 1UP.com has the story here.


– Men In Black III has an official release date of May 25, 2012


– Marquez defeated Diaz last night in their big rematch.


– Congratulations to F4WOnline site founder Bryan Alvarez and Whitney Neugebauer, who were wed last night. Congrats to Lisa Marie Simpson and High St. John Alastair Parkfield – who are scheduled to get married today.


– Sugar Shane Mosley vs. Sergio Mora is scheduled for September 18th in Los Angeles.


– The newest episode of Advanced Macking is up here. Mike Trojan is scheduled to be on this week’s episode of Superfriends. Plus – a new Laidback Gourmet AND Chessboard coming in the next couple of days!


DVD of the Day: Kick-Ass (2010)


Kick-Ass


With no power, comes no responsibility.


The Stats


The Director:  Matthew Vaughn

The Cast:  Aaron Johnson, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Mark Strong, Clark Duke, Nicholas Cage
The Release Date: 2010
The Runtime: 117 Minutes


The Plot

Comic book nerd Dave Lizewski wonders why exactly no one ever tried to be a superhero. So he makes a costume, grabs some weapons and becomes Kick-Ass! But when he enters a world filled with gun-toting vigilantes, gangsters and foul-mouthed deadly little girl… he may have bitten off more than he can chew.

The Lowdown

Kick-Ass is the, err, well, kick-ass movie based on the comic book of the same name by Mark Millar & John Romita, Jr. Superman. Batman. Spider-Man. All great characters with great movies dedicated to them. (Granted not all of them are great, but still.) But how many of them actually kick ass? Yeah, if Batman actually existed he’d probably make me shit my pants… but there’s still some unbelievability in the character.


Enter: Dave Lizewski. Lizewski is just a kid, he orders his entire costume and weaponry off the internet and he goes out and kicks ass. Well, really… he gets his ass kicked… a lot. And this is exactly what would happen in real life. Regardless, this film takes everything we love about comics and turns it on its head and shows us: “See how ridiculous this is?” But whatever… it’s a hell of a lot of fun.


Dave’s storyline is an ultimate comic geek’s dream. He becomes a super hero, he fights the bad guy… and he gets [the ridiculously smoking hot] girl. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty simple male-fantasy fulfillment storyline. But screw it, so is James Bond. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.


The supporting cast is awesome. You come for Kick-Ass… but you stay for Hit Girl. Hit Girl is one of the most bad ass characters to come out of movies in the last twenty years. The best part? She’s a 12 year old girl. And what a mouth on this little broad. Hi-fucking-larious.


And of course, how could we forget about Big Daddy? Big Daddy is what would happen is Batman taken to the absolute extreme. Hell, he even runs around with an underage sidekick. The best part is Nicholas Cage’s acting choices. He plays him like a fucked-up Adam West and the results are brilliant.


Kick-Ass gets released on DVD this Tuesday, August 3. Buy it. Don’t rent it. BUY IT. You’ll thank me.