This is what you might call a disaster-comedy film; not in the sense that it’s a disastrous failure (it isn’t), but that everything consistently goes wrong. In the past I’ve never really enjoyed movies of this sort. As a pessimist I get upset when stuff happens as I expect it to. However, there’s a lot to like about this movie, so it kind of makes it okay.
Steve Carell stars as a pretty charming middle-aged guy who has a hobby in mouse-taxidermy, making pretty awesome dioramas mostly depicting events from his sad life. Still, he’s a very happy guy pretty much all the time, seemingly ignorant of the destruction he’s causing (though always apologetic afterwards). His intervention in the life of Paul Rudd’s character takes every wrong turn possible but of course ends happily.
The main event of course is the titular dinner, in which a bunch of business executives bring “extraordinary people” to laugh at so they feel less like the nincompoops that they are. Tim (Rudd) brings Barry (Carell) to the dinner so he can secure his place in a new office and get a bigger paycheck. The lead-up to the dinner establishes that Tim isn’t doing this out of spite for Barry, and that he’s really just a good guy who’s trying to impress a girl by being successful, so you’re not supposed to hate him. Anyway the dinner is a lot of fun, bringing in Zach Gaifianakis, Chris O’Dowd from The IT Crowd, and a bunch of other funny people to show off their inane talents. Before and after the main even we are also blessed with the presence of Jemaine Clement in a role very unlike his character in Flight of the Conchords.
The movie is a remake of a French film which I know almost nothing about, but I assume it’s probably better. The ridiculousness of a lot of the situations is just a bit too much. Still, it was pretty funny, and Steve Carell is always fun to watch. Also the Fool on the Hill intro was pretty great.