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By Chris Gore | November 14, 2003

This is no “Mr. Show”…even though the subjects of anal sex, b********y and shitty pants are heavily debated. No, funny as it is, Bob Odenkirk’s new film is just as sad and even…intriguing.

Based on Michael Blieden’s play, Melvin Goes to Dinner focuses on four people getting together for dinner and drinks. As the evening continues, conversation turns from casual, to kinky, to dark and sinister. Ultimately, these people open up to each other, spilling forth their deepest, darkest secrets.

Bob Odenkirk spoke with us a bit about his new film.

How did the project come about, because it started as a play.
My wife saw this awesome play that had one of her clients in it (she’s a manager, a talent manager), and she told me it was an excellent play and really good, and I said, “That’s bullshit. Plays suck. They always suck.” She said, “No, no, it’s really good. I mean it.” And I said, “It doesn’t matter. It sucks.” So then I went and saw it and it was GREAT. And everybody loved it…not just me…the other people in the audience seemed to like it. And I walked out and I said, “There’s no way that was good, cuz it was a play. It had to suck, and something’s wrong with me: I ate something, somebody slipped me a hash brownie… something went wrong, cuz i liked that play.” So I went again, and it was great, and I thought, “Okay, maybe it’s good, but it’s still a play, so it can’t be good. Again, something’s still wrong with me. Maybe I have an inner ear infection.” You know how those things can throw your balance off and your judgment. Think George Bush has one? He has a very deep inner ear infection. That’s all it is. That’s the whole war with Iraq, it’s just an inner ear infection. Okay, I say the war with Iraq, but it hasn’t started yet. But come on, let’s face it, it’s gonna happen. It’s a matter of time.

So I saw it again! I saw it a third time; I saw it a fourth time; I saw it a fifth time. Because I really couldn’t believe this simple piece that Michael Blieden wrote began life as just this conversation between four characters in one location, there was no time passage at all. It was so entertaining and funny and sad, and just moving and great. And so after the fifth time I saw it, I started talking to the writer, Michael Blieden, and writing a screenplay of it, and thought of some hopefully inventive ways to shoot it, and tried to keep the original cast together, cuz the cast knew this piece so well. They’re so great and they’re pretty much unknowns. Annabelle Gurwitch you might know. She’s been in some features, and she’s been in TV shows. Matt Price you don’t know, and Stephanie Courtney you don’t know, and Michael Blieden you know from some commercials…for I think Miller Ice, if that exists. You can check. But they’re all excellent in this. And so, we wondered how we could keep that cast together, so we kept the budget low, and we got some good cameos… we got David Cross, we got Maura Tierney…

How did you get David Cross?
Well, you know what? There’s this show called “Mr. Show with Bob and David” and I’m a huge fan of it. But I like the one guy; I don’t like the other guy. So the guy I don’t like – this short, balding, annoying chap, uh – I thought, “I’m going to try to make that guy look good for once.” That was my challenge as a director. So I got this fledging actor, David Cross…little Davey Cross, he likes to be called, so if you meet him on the street, Little Davey Cross… or you could call him Chicken Pot Pie Guy. He really loves to be called the Chicken Pot Pie Guy. I put him in it. And Maura Tierney is awesome… and Melora Walters is in it. She’s great, and you know her from many awesome films. And there’s also an unknown cameo: El Diablo, the uncredited. Watch for El Diablo. I can’t say his name, but he’s very well known, and you like him. You already like him, but I can’t say his name.

Have you ever had a life-changing experience at a dinner?
No, I wouldn’t say a dinner. I would say over a cup of, of… what’s that stuff that’s tea but it’s really intense and they put a lot of milk in it? Chai tea! Yeah, actually, some chai tea and a friend of mine, and I had a very important kind of life-changing experience having a conversation with a friend. But in the case of this movie, it’s like these four characters don’t really know they’re going to have this, conversation. They just think they’re getting together to hang out and have a very entertaining, light-hearted conversation. And they’re sort of all surprised by where it goes… which is I think intriguing and cool.

But when I found out the movie was about a bunch of people sitting around having dinner, I thought, “Wow! This could really suck! Like ‘My Dinner With Andre’!”
Yes, it could, yeah.

Yet, as soon as the characters started talking about b********y…

You had me at b********y. I mean, it’s hysterical like “Mr. Show.”
There’s b********y, there’s anal intercourse, fetishes, there are ghosts, there’s a little story about a guy who dies and is buried wearing a Wizards jersey…which is possibly the saddest thing you could… sad and funny at the same time.

One guy s***s himself while ejaculating…
One guy talks about shitting himself while ejaculating… but look, let’s not mislead people. This is a family film. It’s about a family get-together and a dying uncle. I always wanted to do a scene about a very, very old man who tells his family that he’s gay and he just realized it. It’s ‘93, and just a week ago he realized he’s gay. Would someone make this movie, please? Make my movie. “I’m very, very gay!” “How long have you known this, grandfather?” “Since I was 78!” “That was six months ago?” “Yes…” Okay, think about it. It’s very complex.

Get the rest of the interview in part two of MY DINNER WITH BOB>>>

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