Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Schmucks: In Film and Print

Just from looking at the pictures, you probably wouldn't think that there is a connection between the movie, Dinner for Schmucks, and the book, Chesapeake Shores Christmas, by Sherryl Woods - but there is.

Dave and I saw Dinner for Schmucks last weekend.   I knew that any movie starring Steve Carrell would probably be what I call "guy humor" or just "stupid humor" (for examples, see any movie Will Farrell or Adam Sandler ever made), but Dave - being a guy - likes that type of humor, and I just like going to the movies. 

In this movie, Tim, a young executive looking for a promotion, is invited to a "Dinner for Idiots" hosted by his boss.  Each executive brings a guest - the biggest schmuck they can find.  The guests are told it is a dinner for "exceptional people".  If Tim brings the biggest schmuck to the dinner, he will be rewarded with a bump up the corporate ladder.  Convinced by his girlfriend that this is a nasty way to treat people, Tim is prepared to turn down the invitiation...then he meets Barry.  Barry is an IRS accountant and part-time taxidermist.  He makes vignettes of famous scenes from history and literature, using mice that he finds on the street and stuffs.  He's the perfect schmuck!  As the story progresses, Barry moves from sad, lonely oddball to annoying half-wit to so ridiculously moronic that you just want the movie to end - regardless of HOW it ends - so he will go away.  At one point Dave said "I want to crawl into the screen and strangle this guy.  Why has no one killed him?"  And therein lies the basis for the connection to the O'Brien family in Chesapeake Shores.

Chesapeake Shores Christmas is fourth in the Chesapeake Shores series.  I have not read any of the first three, and perhaps my sympathy level for the characters would have been higher if I had, but I don't think so.  Megan O'Brien left her neglectful, tyranical husband after nearly twenty years of marriage, and lost touch with her five children in the process.  Now, years later, Megan and ex-husband Mick have reconciled and are planning a New Year's Eve wedding.  The problem is, Megan wants the childrens' blessing on the reunion, and son Connor is not willing to forgive her yet.  Megan also wants to start her own business, with no help from Mick, who insists on stepping in.

The plot is sound and offers lots of fodder for a touching Christmas story.  Unfortunately, the Christmas portion of the story consists mainly of carrying decorations down from the attic and untangling lights.  By two-thirds of the way through, I was echoing Dave's words at the movie - "I want to crawl into the page and strangle these people!"  Someone really needed to give this family a major attitude adjustment and a little advice to "grow up!"  

I wouldn't recommend spending time or money on either of these tales, but perhaps if you've read earlier Chesapeake Shores volumes, you'll have more tolerance and understanding for the characters than I did.

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