The two on-screen adaptations of the French film Le Diner de Cons (The Dinner Game) - Bollywood’s Bheja Fry and Hollywood’s Dinner For Schmucks - teach audiences an interesting thing about discrepancy.
Sagar Ballary’s version of the film doesn’t change a thing from the original, including the transitions and jokes we presume, since they don’t seem that funny when translated. While Jay Roach’s Dinner For Schmucks changes almost everything and still doesn’t entertain.
This leaves those who have seen all three films with only one conclusion - adapting a film isn’t as easy as it seems. If the intention is to make a good film using the easy way out, that is. Here is a list of the differences, since the similarities are bound to stand out.
Le Diner de cons
(The Dinner Game) (1998)
Written and directed by Francis Veber
A bunch of rich friends organise a dinner every week, where each one brings along somebody, who they refer to as ‘idiot’, to make fun of, without the ‘idiot’ knowing.
Pierre Brochant’s (Thierry Lhermitte) friend meets François Pignon (Jacques Villeret) on a train journey. Pignon makes bonsai structures out of matchsticks. Wife doesn’t agree with game, storms out of the house. Brochant gets a sprain in his back during a game of golf.
Pignon makes it to his house a little early. And then follow a series of foolish acts by Pignon. He ends up calling Brochant’s nymphomaniac ex-girlfriend to the house with her three dogs, the wife thinks he is still having an affair, an IT department official comes calling to scan his belongings and much more.
The last scene shows Pignon having fixed Brochant’s problems with his wife with the help of a lie. And the credits roll just before that lie gets caught.
Dinner For Schmucks (2010)
Directed by Jay Roach
Starring Steve Carell, Paul Rudd
Tim (Paul Rudd) has managed to earn himself an invitation to a dinner at his boss’s house. The dinner requires him to bring along an ‘idiot’. And a good impression at that dinner will ensure his promotion to the ‘seventh floor office’.
He accidentally almost runs over Barry (Steve Carell) in a car. Barry is a genuine but fumbling man, who spends his spare time in taxidermy. He makes exquisite 3D models with small white mice as the characters.
In an attempt to hold the elevator door open as his live-in girlfriend tries to leave, Barry intervenes and pulls his hand away thinking he is stuck, landing Tim with a sprained back and the girlfriend gone.
Tim’s back is eventually fixed by Barry, who manages to find a genuine soft spot for Tim and vice versa. In a strange twist of circumstances, Barry finds out the plan Tim had in mind and leaves.
Tim reaches the dinner, with no excuse for not showing with an idiot, when he sees Barry standing at a corner. The dinner game actually becomes a detailed show of the ‘idiots’ and their talents.
Barry eventually impresses everyone with his various mice models and in the emotional monologue wins over Tim’s heart.
The film concludes with Tim insulting his boss and throwing the trophy out of his glass window, along with his job.
Tim, Barry and his girlfriend live happily ever after.
Bheja Fry (2007)
Directed by Sagar Ballary
Starring Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor
Ranjeet Thadani’s (Rajat Kapoor) friend meets Bharat Bhushan (Vinay Pathak) on a bus. Bhushan is a thoroughly irritating man, who thinks he is a professional singer.
During a game of tennis, Thadani sprains his back quite badly.