Early on it looks like business as usual with Rudd introduced in familiar guise as Tim, a neurotic nice guy whose girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak) rejects his proposal of marriage twice in one week. She is beautiful, smart and sophisticated with her own career in the art world and Tim begins to suspect that perhaps he isn't good enough for her. That makes getting a promotion doubly important and though the idea turns his stomach, he accepts an invite to the boss's schmuck fest. He even convinces himself it's God's work when goofball Barry (Carell) bounces off the hood of his car.
Barry is an idiot. He collects dead mice, stuffs them and dresses them up as public figures. The problem is, Barry also comes across as the type who could just as easily do this to live human beings. Carell plays him with a quiet, beady-eyed desperation; vacant to the point where you suspect he is actually psychotic. Naturally, he also does a lot of reckless things, like inviting Tim's sex-mad stalker (Lucy Punch) over to Tim's place causing Julie to storm out. This little episode only underlines the problem with Barry who, even next to Ms Punch, is still the creepiest person in the room.
Tim is just as big a schmuck for making Barry an object of fun at the boss's dinner, but that's saved for the final act. Prior to this, the story lacks focus. It hinges on Barry's efforts to get Tim and Julie back together and helping him schmooze a new client played in typically camp style by Little Britain's David Walliams. Jemaine Clement (Eagle Vs. Shark and Flight Of The Conchords) is monotonously macho as an artist with his eye on Julie. He goes as far as to drop his pants for cheap laughs and indulges in a kinky Tarzan fantasy that drags on like the stages of human evolution. From here, the comedy only gets weirder and more random than Barry's brain cells.
The dinner sets the stage for a gallery of the grotesque with guests including a pet medium and a ventriloquist married to his doll. It's a last-minute rush for laughs and you can almost smell the desperation. Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) features in one of the few vaguely amusing scenes as a rival schmuck who claims to control minds. His knack for making Barry reveal embarrassing secrets makes the dinner only slightly more engaging than the antics leading up to it. Up until then, Barry's stupidity shields him from criticism and without moments of vulnerability it's tough to sympathise. It's easier to identify with Tim, but only insofar as he finds Barry strange and annoying. Inevitably, the two of them get all misty-eyed at the end, but most right-minded viewers will be left in a fog trying to make sense of this drivel.
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