“The Dinner Game” contains three of the five most undesirable words in film today … “Foreign”, “Subtitled” and “French” (the others being “remake” and “Schumacher”). As much as we all think that we are “lovers of film” and hate main stream movies, how many times have you actually said … “You know, I am really looking forward to the new John Sayles film!” (be honest), and by the box office of most indys, good or bad, we are just not going to see the movies that don’t have huge, awkward spiders or super-sleuths with abnormally bad teeth.
Having stated this, “The Dinner Game” is easily the funniest and most charming film that has been or will be released in 1999 … period. Yes, it is funnier than your recycled “Austin Powers”, more charming than the ridiculous “Big Daddy” and without question, more intelligent than offensively unwatchable movies like … “Summer of Sam” and “Wild, Wild West”.
What is “Game’s” big secret? It captures the one element that none of the above listed “films” even attempt to attain … likable characters. Writer/Director Francis Veber (La Cage Aux Follies) has succeeded in creating characters that you enjoy watching and are truely happy to see prosper.
Characters such as Mr. Francois Pignon (Jacques Villeret), a man who is lacking is social skills to such a degree that Mr. Pierre Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) jumps at the chance to invite him to a dinner with his most wealthy and obnoxious friends … The Dinner of Idiots. The gist of this mean-spirited feast … To harpoon and reel in the biggest and most boing idiot. The proceeding evening is filled with hysterical coincidences and outrageous mistakes that would make even the staunchiest of critics smile.
It doesn’t use big special effects or all of the gross-out jokes that you have all grown to love so much … (no, as a matter of fact, peeing against a wall w/ a child is NOT funny). It just creates charming characters that are almost without exception lovable buffoons (unlike Jar Jar). It also does so within an 80 minute time frame … yes you read correctly … 80 MINUTES … a time that is unheard of in American feature filmmaking today.