The movie begins with a montage of a man (not seen) creating costumes for mice as he puts them in several romantic settings such as a park, a Ferris Wheel, and a swing set. When he finishes we see the whole scene depicting a couple of mice who are in love and are enjoying themselves.
The scene then shifts to an office where Tim Conrad (Paul Rudd), his assistant, and his colleague are all on the 6th floor staring out the window at some poor guy who has clearly just gotten fired. They comment on how he was a high-ranking executive and how now there is an opening on the 7th floor, which they need to get to get out of the 6th floor, which they refer to as a hell, hole that smells like cole slaw. Tim and his team are then summoned up to the 7th floor as analysts while the major executives discuss how they need to make more money to compensate for the losses made by the man who was just fired. All the ideas backfire and as they stand up to leave, Tim boldly announces he has an idea. All the other executives laugh and his colleague tells him to shut up but the head of the board, Lance Fender (Bruce Greenwood) seems interested and agrees to hear him out. Tim explains how there are a bunch of dead nuclear missiles from WWI that no one wants and are trying to get rid of. He suggests buying them all at a ridiculously low price and then converting them into lamps to sell them. All the board laughs at his idea until Tim points out that Mr. Mueller (David Walliams), a very rich Swiss businessman is very interesting in the lamp idea. Impressed, Fender agrees to the idea but makes another businessman in charge of the operation despite Tim's protests.
When the meeting adjourns, Tim walks out dejected that he was not put in charge until Fender calls him over. He tells Tim that a promotion is in store for him, provided he does well at the "dinner." A confused Tim is then told that the men all like to have a dinner where they invite idiots for guests over so they can laugh at them and make fun of them. At the end they pick a "winner" (essentially the biggest idiot). The "winner" gets a trophy and the person who brought the idiot is lauded. Fender's colleagues make it clear that he needs to bring a good idiot to get that promotion.
Fender then leaves the office and passes an art gallery where there is an exhibit going on. He waves inside to a woman who turns out to be his girlfriend Julie (Stephanie Szostak). He congratulates her on hosting this great art exhibit (she is the curator) and she thanks him while asking him if he received the promotion. He quickly states that it's complicated and then asks her to marry him. She is flattered but said that she already told him when he asked before that although she loves him she isn't quite ready for the next step. He quickly replies that he waited and figured he should try again to which she humorously replies, "you asked me two days ago." She then takes him inside to meet the main artist of the exhibit, Keiran Vollard (Jemaine Clement)
Kieran greets Tim and refers to him as a stockbroker despite Tim’s protest that his profession has nothing to do with stock broking. Kieran then shows Tim all the paintings while telling him disturbing stories such as how he had to stick his hand in his zebra’s vagina to get the baby out in time. He also asks Tim to interpret the painting where Kieran painted a black snake in place of his penis. Tim is creeped out and eventually leaves with Julie for dinner. At dinner, Tim reveals the real story behind the dinner and Julie is shocked. She begs Tim not to go to the dinner and he reluctantly agrees.
The next day Tim is driving while talking on the phone to his assistant and telling her to make an excuse for why he can’t come to the dinner. His assistant begs him to reconsider, stating that the promotion would be big for him and their whole team. Tim refuses and then slams into a pedestrian in the middle of the road. A horrified Tim runs out of the car to make sure the man is okay. The man turns out to be Barry Speck (Steve Carell) who claims that he is fine and that he was just trying to rescue the dead mouse in the street. He is then amazed that he got run over by a Porsche and begins taking pictures of it and of himself. He then takes a picture of him, the mouse, and a very confused Tim. Tim begs Barry not to get the lawyers involved and asks how much it would take for Barry to keep quiet. A confused Barry thinks he has to pay Tim to keep the lawyers away and begins offering 5, 10, and eventually 10 thousand dollars. Tim is even more confused but eventually gets it and demands 10 thousand dollars. When Barry states that he does not have that much money, Tim smiles and says that they will just call it even and no one has to pay anything. Barry smiles and then proceeds to show Tim all his mouse drawings and his mouse diorama of the last supper to which Tim is genuinely impressed. He then invites Barry to the dinner tomorrow night to which he happily agrees.
At his office he tells his assistant that he is going through with the dinner because he found the perfect guy. He then runs into Mueller and Fender and is invited to discuss business with them. Mueller is impressed with his sense of culture and upon finding out that he has a girlfriend, who is a curator, insists that the 4 of them have brunch together where the women can talk about art and the men about business. Fender is excited about this deal and warns Tim not the screw it up.
When Tim gets home that night, he claims that although he did not want to go to this dinner, the fact that he ran into a complete idiot today makes it a sign of god that he should go to this dinner. Julie is very upset but Tim claims that there is this side of him that Julie does not know and that he does not like but it exists to help them make money and achieve their dreams. Julie still refuses to agree that this is right and walks out on Tim. Tim desperately tries to follow but Julie claims she needs to be alone. Tim jams the elevator door but then out of all people Barry comes out the adjoining elevator and thinking Tim is trapped, he tackles Tim, which severely hurts his back. Barry walks Tim back to his apartment, asking about dinner but Tim points out that he said dinner was tomorrow night. Tim then asks Barry to get the back brace from his room and then to leave. Barry claims he cannot find it so Tim, very slowly, crawls to his room to find it. While he is looking for it, Barry sees someone messaging Tim and begins talking about. The lady asks if he is bored and when Barry says yes, he is sent a picture of her ass to which he quickly prints out. She then asks if he is touching himself and a confused Barry, since he is touching his face, says yes. She then asks to come over and Barry gives her Tim’s address.
Tim comes back with his brace and asks what Barry is doing. When he sees what Barry has done he freaks out and explains that this woman is Darla and that she has been stalking him for 3 years because before he met Julie he went to this New Year’s party and got really drunk and ended up sleeping with Darla and he regrets it ever since. Barry takes the picture of her ass and swears it won’t be a problem. He then goes into the lobby and begins comparing the picture of the ass to the people walking in the lobby. He finally thinks he has a match and goes and confronts the girl who turns out be…Julie. Of course Barry does not know this and thinking Julie is Darla begins telling her just because they slept together does not mean she should stalk him and that she should leave right away. Julie asks for more details and when she hears about the whole Tim-Darla thing, she leaves, unaware that it happened a long time ago. Barry proudly comes in and states that the crisis is averted. They then go to Kieran’s house to see if Julie is there. She is not but Kieran expresses his sympathy but also claims that Julie cannot be tamed and is not meant to be tied down. Tim is upset at this but leaves and goes back home
As they get back home, Barry suddenly snaps Tim’s back and heals him, claiming that humans and rodents’ spines are not so different. Tim quickly thanks him until another woman walks in who turns out to be…Darla. She quickly comes on to him but Tim avoids her advances and locks himself in the bedroom. A furious Darla then tries coming on to Barry to make Tim jealous but Barry is just confused. When Darla tells Barry to spank him because she is a naughty schoolteacher, Barry replies that he is just an IRS man and he has no authority to do that. A desperate Darla then states that she hasn’t paid her taxes and needs to be spanked only Barry replies that she wouldn’t get a spanking but rather a bunch of notifications and audits from the IRS. Finally Darla just screams really loud and begins spanking herself. An amused Barry joins along and eventually states that he is a penguin and Darla is a bird who needs to catch him. Darla agrees to play along until she hits her knee on the chair. She then gets angrier but Barry blinds her with a tablecloth and flips her over the rail, causing her to bleed. An out of control Darla begins throwing wine bottles at Barry but surprisingly Barry dodges them all and even catches one while laughing. She then throws another bottle and Barry feigns like he has been hit and is dying. Meanwhile Tim has been in the bedroom trying to figure out where Julie is. When he finally hears Darla leave he comes out to see Barry in a puddle of red liquid but then Barry gets up laughing and points out that the liquid is just red wine. Tim is horrified at the state of his apartment but then sees Julie’s phone which has a voice mail from Kieran telling her that she is welcome to come to his private ranch. Tim is desperate to go there but realizes he does not have the address since it is not listed. Barry mentions that since he works for the IRS, Kieran’s ranch would be listed since he paid taxes for it and he knows a guy that can find that information. The two leave to Barry’s office.
Turns out the guy is Barry’s boss, Therman Murch (Zach Galifianakis). He shows off his mind control skills on Barry just to prove he is in charge. Tim then asks him to look up Kieran’s tax records but Therman looks up his instead, sees an error, an audits Tim and then has security escort the two out. Outside, Tim is about to unload on Barry until Barry points out that his ex-wife has arrived. And of course his ex-wife is dating Therman who smirks at him. Barry sounds genuinely sad about the loss of his wife, thinking he was not good enough. Tim, who is in a similar situation at the moment, sympathizes with Barry and allows him to spend the night.
At Tim’s house, Barry finds the ring and Tim tells him that he carries it around all the time just in case Julie changes her mind. He then goes to bed but is woken up by Barry who claims he can’t sleep. Tim gives Barry some food and milk and turns on cartoons and tries to go to bed but Barry’s obnoxious laughter keeps him up. At around 4:30, Tim gives up sleeping and walks out only to see Barry fast asleep. He sees his mice photos on the crowd and picks it up. He sees a picture of two mice getting married followed by the husband mouse seeing the female mouse cheating on him followed by the male mouse crying at being alone. Tim seems genuinely touched by these photos and he returns back to bed.
The next day Tim orders Barry to stay in the chair and not touch anything. He then grabs his phone and leaves. However when Barry’s phone rings and it’s the assistant reminding him about brunch, Barry realizes Tim accidentally took his phone. Not wanting to break his promise to Tim, he drags the chair with him as he calls Tim’s name. Meanwhile at the brunch, Tim meets the Muellers who are disappointed that Julie could not show up. Tim apologizes but then gets right down to business with Mueller. Mueller is impressed by how straight forward and honest he is and agrees to do business with him. He is about to shake his hand when Barry shows up with Darla, claiming it is Julie. The Muellers are ecstatic and begin asking about “Julie.” Darla smiles and slips a napkin to Tim that says “I’m Wet.” Tim throws it down in disgust but Barry picks it up and mistakenly gives it to Mueller who seems very disturbed by it. Mrs. Mueller then asks why they are not married and Tim replies that he has asked several times but has been rejected. Darla quickly tells him to ask again but Tim claims it would not be appropriate and that he does not have the ring. Yet the Muellers egg him on and Barry pulls the ring out of his pocket so Tim has no choice but to propose. Of course Darla says yes and begins kissing him and at that moment Julie walks in. She quickly says hi to the Muellers and leaves with Tim running after her. She says she does not even know who he is anymore and she is going to Kieran’s ranch. As she leaves Barry drives up in his Porsche and Tim gets in. Suddenly Darla goes crazy and begins smashing the car and destroying it. She then screams out that she is leaving and is keeping the ring. A beaten Tim begins punching Barry. Barry then gets out his phone, calls Therman, and gets the address for the ranch and the two drive off.
At the ranch, Tim finds Julie and asks for a minute alone. He then reveals to Julie everything but Julie is still skeptical, stating that she does not know if she even loves him. She says that she will be going to San Francisco for a couple days with Kieran and will come by for her stuff later. A heartbroken Tim begs her not to leave, claiming Barry is nothing but an idiot and that he messed it all up. However Barry overhears this and walks out dejected. Tim walks out and apologizes, claiming that he is the idiot but Barry refuses to listen. A depressed Tim drives back home until he gets a call from Fender who says he better get over here to the dinner. When Tim refused, Mueller is put on the phone and tells Tim that brunch today was amusing since he was playing the idiot game and that his idiot is sure to win but he better get over here now. Tim quickly rushes over to Fender’s house where Fender points out his idiot is “winning.” A confused Tim sees Barry in a crowd talking to other idiots, which includes a ventriloquist whose puppet is his wife, the 2002 beard champion, an animal keeper who acts like a mother to his vulture, and a woman who can supposedly communicate with dead pets. Barry says he feels right at home. Tim is about to tell him the truth when Fender comes in and announces dinner is ready.
At dinner, Fender tells Tim to introduce his guest. Barry then goes up and shows several shoebox dioramas of mice being portrayed as famous people such as Benjamin Franklin. His last model is of Tim and Julie on top of a wedding cake, which truly touches Tim. Everyone applauds and people whisper to Tim how his idiot is the best…until Therman comes into the room and displays his “mind control” on Barry and makes him admit that his wife left Barry for him. Tim then takes Barry outside and reveals that this whole dinner is a hoax and how everyone thinks he is an idiot. Barry finally gets it and is hurt but then Tim tells him he has “brain control” and can take on Therman. Inside, he and Therman “duel” with imaginary guns, light sabers, and swords. Barry eventually wins the “duel” much to the delight of the people at the table. Fender declares that Barry is the “winner.” However Tim finally makes a stand and says that he is the idiot for going along with this whole thing and reveals to all the other “idiots” the truth behind the dinner. In a rage, one of the idiots, a blind swordsman, begins swinging his sword like crazy, chopping off Mueller’s finger and starting a fire in the process. Tim and Barry quickly run out of the house as the fire trucks approach.
Back at the apartment, Tim realizes Julie has left. He then laments to Barry how he is the idiot for letting her go and how none of this business stuff mattered to him and that he was only trying to impress Julie because he felt like he wasn’t good enough for her. Barry smiles and asks him what else he liked and he mentions how he loved waking up in the morning next to him. Barry keeps egging him on and Tim is confused and turns around to see Julie who had walked in and heard the entire conversation. She smiles and they kiss but then Kieran walks in and says they need to leave. Barry walks up and says that while they may be perfect together, Tim got there first and he can do nothing about it. Kieran realizes he is right and that he can no longer maintain a strictly professional relationship with Julie and leaves. Tim smiles and he and Julie kiss while Barry gives them both a hug.
The ending scenes are shown with everyone being depicted as mice. Tim and Julie got married, Barry started a relationship with Darla, Barry started a monthly breakfast of champions for all the previous “idiots’ to attend, and Therman ended up in a mental hospital. The end scene shows Tim and Julie happily in bed in Paris on their honeymoon with Barry smiling under the bed.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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At the dinner, Barry (Steve Carell) is paralyzed by Therman (Zach Galifianakis) and is likely to lose the trophy for best guest/idiot. Tim (Paul Rudd) gives Barry a pep talk.
We find out that Therman stole Pudding (Barry's ex-wife). Barry found them in their wedding bed. Tim convinces Barry that while Therman may have mind control Barry has brain control. This new power of Barry's throws Therman off and he leaves the dinner early. Barry wins the trophy and Tim looks like he is on his way to the executive 7th floor. Tim decides that executives who make fun of others is not the kind of group he wants to be in so he essentially quits.
The end has a bunch of taxidermied mice dioramas explained by Barry of what happened with each group of characters. Kieran (Jemaine Clement) and Barry collaborate on a bunch of art works his paintings and Barry's mouseterpieces. They even created a statue of Müeller's missing finger with family crested ring and quote 'My wife's favorite finger' for his changed factory into Max Müeller Museum of Modern Art (MMMMA). Barry and Darla (Lucy Punch) get together.
Tim and Julie (Stephanie Szostak) are both out of a job but get married and have a honeymoon in Paris with Barry under the bed.
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