Starvoice • 04.29.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Lesley Gore turns 65 on Monday. Much has changed in music since singer Lesley Gore recorded her biggest hit “It’s My Party” back in 1963. But maybe it was Gore who “changed” the most. The iconic singer came out as lesbian in 2005 and stated she knew in her late teens that she was attracted to women. Now we have to go back and listen to all her lyrics again.

……………………………….

THIS WEEK

Uranus, newly in Aries, cranks up spontaneous individualism and assertion. The sun is in Taurus, semi-square to Uranus provoking a lot of stubbornness. Don’t challenge others with an uppity, obstinate attitude; look for creative new ways to show loyalty and resilience.

………………………………

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Life’s tough blows have been piling up, but don’t let it give you piles. Much as people depend on the solid, reliable you, you need to be able to let it out and lean on someone else.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Your friends are only human. Don’t take disappointments to heart. Cutting off communications is a big mistake, but so is over-talking the problem. A short break may be best.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Your friends’ ideas fare too much from the heart, not enough from the brains. Going along with them could hurt your rep and your wallet. Thank them for their ideas and change the subject.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
In your ideal relationship you’re the star married to your agent or manager. That means you can’t always be the boss! Arguments are normal but listening remains more important than speaking.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Novel sex techniques are a blast but require some safety. They also open up a lot of suppressed feelings. How well do you know your partner? Just be sure that he or she can be trusted.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
You and your mate have a great time exploring kinky new fun. Anything from silk scarf bondage to cattle prods is open to testing. Slow, careful and easy is the best approach, at first anyway.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
You are part of a team and everyone else is as important as you. As much as your special talents do contribute to the team, cultivate humility as one of those talents.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Argue about movie, art, sports, anything fun or creative; you’re sure to find amazing new ideas. Keep your mind and ears open and respectful of other notions. Be polite with the idiots.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Livening up your home life should be a fun creative challenge, not a painful economic one. Unleash your dark side in planning changes, but not in how you treat housemates.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Criticism of family, housemates or your community is surprising in its harshness. If you can’t be kind, give your loved ones a break and look for schmucks who deserve your wrath.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Financial surprises work your nerves. You need a break. Try something new and different even if it’s just a quiet stroll in a park or country road you’ve never trod before.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
The cost of living force some choices in how you unwind. Look ahead 10 years and imagine what friendships, talents and skills you’d like to have developed through your hobbies.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

La cage aux fools

Remake of Veber farce a showcase for Carell

DINNER PARODY | Paul Rudd and Steve Carell spiral out of control in laugh-filled French farce remake.

3 out of 5 stars
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS
Steve Carell, Paul Rudd.
Rated PG-13. 105 mins.
Now playing wide release.

With the one-two punch of Despicable Me and now Dinner for Schmucks, Steve Carell will be hard to beat as the summer’s King of Comedy.

Schmucks is based on the 1998 French comedy Le Diner de Cons by Francis Veber, writer of La Cage aux Folles. With typical American excess, it’s half an hour longer than the French version (about 15 minutes too long) and includes the eponymous dinner, which Veber left to the imagination. Still it’s a top screen farce featuring moments of inspired silliness.

A farce by its nature requires lots of expositional set up, so your patience is tested at the beginning, but the payoff is worth it. Tim (Paul Rudd) is a hard-working analyst for Fender (Bruce Greenwood). With a connection to a wealthy Swiss wastrel (David Walliams of Little Britain) and the help of his secretary (Kristen Schaal), Tim may advance from the sixth floor to the seventh: Moving into the company’s inner circle gets him invited to a monthly dinner party where idiots are invited and mocked.

Tim has begun making frequent proposals to his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak), an art curator promoting the career of pretentious painter Kieran Vollard (Jemaine Clement). Tim promises not to participate in the dinner until he meets socially awkward Barry (Carell), who fits the idiot profile so perfectly it seems like fate.

Tim invites him to the dinner, giving him a license to cling. Barry sets about systematically but inadvertently destroying Tim’s life, hilariously involving his own boss at the IRS (Zach Galifianakis) and a stalker (Lucy Punch) with a near-fatal attraction to Tim.

Because the p.c. police are watching, the dinner guests not only have to have some kind of alternate intellect, but must be extraordinary people with specialized skills or hobbies they engage in obsessively. We’ve already seen Barry’s work in a fascinating opening montage: He dresses up dead mice and poses them in elaborate tableaux.

In classic fashion, it’s always clear where Dinner for Schmucks is headed but not how it’s going to get there. Each of Barry’s blunders is just a bit more outrageous than you think it’s going to be. Carell, skillfully delivering malapropisms like “the fecal position,” can take over the late Ed Wynn’s title of the Perfect Fool. Rudd makes an equally perfect straight man, though the character and situation may be too close for comfort to what he played in I Love You, Man.

The supporting players overact appropriately, with Szostak and Punch likely to raise their profiles significantly. It’s a treat for Flight of the Conchords fans to have Clement and Schaal in the same vehicle, even if they don’t get to interact.

Director Jay Roach almost makes up for those dreadful Austin Powers movies here. A moment when Barry’s backstory is told in three photos is surprisingly subtle and touching, reminiscent of the marriage montage in Up. If you like to laugh, you’d be a schmuck to be late for Dinner.

— Steve Warren

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas