What do you get when you combine a blind swordsman, a pet psychic, a man with an epic beard, a flirtatious ventriloquist's dummy and a vulture with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd? The answer, if first impressions are to be believed, is a hilarious ensemble comedy from director Jay Roach, the man behind 'Meet the Parents' and the 'Austin Powers' trilogy.

'Dinner for Schmucks' -- undoubtedly in the running for catchiest title of 2010 – centers around Tim (Rudd), a hapless white-collar worker desperate to climb up the corporate ladder at Fender Financial. To get into his bosses' good graces, Tim agrees to attend a dinner party hosted by Fender (Bruce Greenwood) himself, wherein execs compete for bragging rights and coveted promotions by attempting to bring the biggest "schmuck" they can find as their guest. But Tim soon discovers that he may have bitten off more than he can chew by inviting Barry (Carell), an amateur taxidermist with a penchant for stuffed mice, to the soiree ...

Just before Christmas, Moviefone got the chance to visit Paramount Studios in Hollywood and explore the side-splitting (and sometimes surreal) set of 'Schmucks,' in addition to snagging some face time with the cast and crew -- as well as the aforementioned vulture.

What do you get when you combine a blind swordsman, a pet psychic, a man with an epic beard, a flirtatious ventriloquist's dummy and a vulture with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd? The answer, if first impressions are to be believed, is a hilarious ensemble comedy from director Jay Roach, the man behind 'Meet the Parents' and the 'Austin Powers' trilogy.

'Dinner for Schmucks' -- undoubtedly in the running for catchiest title of 2010 -- centers around Tim (Rudd), a hapless white-collar worker desperate to climb up the corporate ladder at Fender Financial. To get into his bosses' good graces, Tim agrees to attend a dinner party hosted by Fender (Bruce Greenwood) himself, wherein execs compete for bragging rights and coveted promotions by attempting to bring the biggest "schmuck" that they can find as their guest. But Tim soon discovers that he may have bitten off more than he can chew by inviting Barry (Carell), an amateur taxidermist with a penchant for stuffed mice, to the soiree ...

Just before Christmas, Moviefone got the chance to visit Paramount Studios in Hollywood and explore the side-splitting (and sometimes surreal) set of 'Schmucks,' in addition to snagging some face time with the cast and crew -- not to mention the aforementioned vulture.

"Ah, Zulu the vulture," Rudd reflected fondly during a joint interview with Carell, a comment that preceded perhaps the strangest conversation in the history of set visit interviews.


"You wanna tell them about the vulture flatulence problem?" Carell whispered conspiratorially to his co-star, an offer which Rudd eagerly seized upon. "Yeah, the vulture farted right in the middle of our scene," he revealed indignantly. "And when you think about what caused it -- what does a vulture eat but dead stuff, and then it farts?"

"It was disturbing," Carell agreed. "It was a disturbing sound, because for a second we really didn't even know what it was. I don't even know how to describe it; it was a release of air that I've never heard before in my life. If we've taken one thing from this experience, it's the sound a vulture makes when it farts ... [laughs]."

Luckily for Carell and Rudd, gassy birds seemed to be the minority in the unanimously stellar cast of comedic talent. Other 'Schmucks' stars include 'The Hangover''s Zach Galifianakis, 'Little Britain' actor David Walliams, New Zealand native Jemaine Clement of 'Flight of the Conchords' fame and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, to name a few.

And with such an oddball assemblage of schmucks, the script seems to provide fertile ground for both the actors and the writers to craft some truly spectacular moments of sheer farce, whilst simultaneously allowing for touching scenes of genuine pathos.

Scriptwriters Michael Handelman and David Guion had some very specific ideas about how to characterize each schmuck during the writing process, and surprisingly, their approach wasn't just about playing for laughs. "It was a huge challenge and an ongoing discussion. What defines a schmuck?" Guion admitted. " They all have to be misunderstood. They can't be successful in their field. They have to have an obsessive interest in something and not get why what they're doing is 'off,' and they also have to be beautiful human beings."

Carell was quick to agree. "My character thinks that these people are the greatest people he's ever met, because they're kindred spirits," he explained. "They're people who kind of live on the fringes and dance to their own music, and I love the fact that these people are so unique and so completely committed to whatever their vocation is."

Dinner for SchmucksFor Dunham's character, Lewis, that uniqueness involves being disturbingly attached to his dummy, Diane, whom he refers to as his wife. Diane, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Joan Rivers and is, Moviefone can attest, anatomically correct, spends most of the movie flirting with every other man at the party, much to Lewis' disapproval.

As for Carell's character, the writers credit the 'Office' star with imbuing Barry with a "gentleness and innocence" that wasn't necessarily emphasized in the script. "Most of the film is the interaction between Paul's character and Steve's character and this kind of sweet friendship that forms between them as Steve completely dismantles Paul's life," Handelman laughed.

"There are so many movies that have odd-couple relationships, but there's something about the premise of this, which is, Paul's character brings this on himself," Guion said. "It's like Hitchcock. There's always a moral transgression that leads you into a nightmare, and Paul's moral transgression is to participate in this thing. He invites this guy into his life and the guy becomes his best friend and destroys him, and in so doing, saves him."

Sounds pretty deep for a comedy movie, but from what we witnessed on set, the film's main concern is providing wall-to-wall funny. From Barry's taxidermy-mouse populated dioramas (or "mousterpieces") detailing historical figures who "dared to dream," to an unfortunate incident involving a certain vulture and a severed appendage, 'Schmucks' looks set to utilize its dream-team cast of comedians to their fullest potential.

Time will tell if audiences enjoy watching the movie as much the cast seemed enjoy making it, but keep an eye out for more behind-the-scenes scoop from the set of 'Schmucks' as we approach the film's July 23 release date.