Do you make others the butt of your jokes?

I missed Dinner for Schmucks when it came out last year; I’m glad I saw it over the weekend. It’s the story of a corporate climber (Paul Rudd) trying to win his boss’s favor by bringing a schmuck to dinner. The boss periodically brings together a group of his arrogant, jerky friends for dinner parties featuring eccentrics and misfits. At the end of the evening, one of the weirdos wins the distinction of biggest idiot.

Rudd finds the whole thing distasteful, and he dodges coming to the dinner at first, but then he meets Barry Speck (Steve Carell). Speck’s hobby is populating dollhouses and model landscapes with elaborately costumed dead mice. He seems to be such a sure bet to win that, in a moment of weakness, Rudd gets himself re-invited to the dinner. Carell proves to be everything Rudd hopes he would – weird, offbeat, totally bizarre.

Between their initial meeting and the dinner, however, Rudd also learns that Carell’s character is a truly decent guy, so innocent and naive that he has no idea that people like Rudd’s boss exist. Naturally, in the end, Rudd does the right thing, stands up for Carell, and loses his job. Carell does Rudd even one better and gets Rudd reunited with the woman he had nearly lost.

I guess we all have moments when we make fun of those among us who are odd. This movie is a great reminder not to do so. We might be trying to make ourselves look superior, but our ugliness invariably pulls us down.

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