The Shmooze

Are Steve Carell and Paul Rudd Schmucks?

By Devra Ferst

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Paul Rudd and Steve Carell will be united once again in bro-mance in the upcoming “Dinner for Schmucks,” due out this July, according to an article in yesterday’s New York Times.

The movie, which will be directed by Jay Roach of “Meet the Fockers” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember,” is inspired by the 1998 French film “Le Diner de Cons” (essentially, “The Dinner for Assholes”). It follows the unlikely friendship between Rudd, an executive who nearly has it all, and Carell, an eccentric and clumsy IRS employee who creates dead mice dioramas for fun. Rudd plans to bring Carell to his boss’s annual “Dinner for Extraordinary People,” where the employee who brings the lamest and strangest guest to dinner is rewarded at the office.

But the movie’s title, which uses the a word more likely to be seen “Yiddish Sayings Mama Never Taught You” than in Leo Rosten’s famous “The Joys of Yiddish,” has put some writers and editors at the country’s most esteemed — and perhaps proper — paper in an in awkward positions. Resulting in a serious and utterly ironic attempt to penetrate the true meaning of the title, and whether or not it’s appropriate:

“Those familiar with Yiddish, polite and otherwise, will recognize a rude term that — in one of its several layers of meaning — denotes the penis,” Michael Cieply wrote in the Times article. He added: “Delve a little deeper and you also find the German term for ‘decoration,’ from the Middle High German ‘smucken,’ meaning ‘to press into.’”

The Times goes on to give a history of the word and to quote a film critic who suggests what she feels are more appropriate titles, like “Dinner for Schlemiels.”

Either way, we’re looking forward to watching Carell and Rudd act like schmucks on screen, because they do it oh so well.


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