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Awesome: 46.15%
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3 reviews, 8 user ratings

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Dinner Game, The
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by iF Magazine

"A fun French satire that offers a timely message."
4 stars

The auteur theory coined by French critics in the 50s as a way of judging the merit of a director’s entire work is usually not used when referring to comedy directors. Yet if you look at the history of cinema there are many -- from Buster Keaton and Preston Sturges to Mel Brooks and Woody Allen -- who have earned the right to be called auteurs.

But when it comes to French comedy it’s even more difficult to find a director who qualifies as an auteur. Unless you go all the way back to the silent era, there haven’t been many French comedy directors worthy of the distinction, with the exception of Jacques Tati, whose films are predicated on silent film aesthetic.

Certainly the most overlooked comedy director in the world today is French director Francis Veber. Actually, while he is overlooked in terms of critical consensus, he certainly is not by Hollywood producers who have often bought, borrowed and stolen his ideas for remakes. Indeed, Veber’s claim to fame in America is that four of the films he’s directed and four of the scripts he’s written have been remade into Hollywood movies. His new comedy, being no exception, has already had the rights purchased by Dreamworks to be remade in the near future.

Yes, it is a comedy, but there is a lesson to be learned watching it. The message of THE DINNER GAME is that "if you invite an idiot over for dinner he will make you look like a fool." The film’s set-up is a dinner club of mean-spirited, high society businessmen who invite "idiots" -- preferably with amusing hobbies -- over for dinner to hear their stories and secretly smirk at them. They set up a scoring system so that whoever invites the biggest clown to dinner wins.

For this dinner, Pierre (Thierry Lhermitte), with the help of a friend, has found a bumbling heavy-set man named Francois Pignon (Jacques Villeret), who delightedly builds matchstick models of famous architectural structures (he is proud of the fact that he used 346,000 matchsticks to build his model of the Eiffel Tower).

Unfortunately, Pierre has injured his back and is unable to attend the dinner, but since he has already invited Pignon over for a drink he decides to keep him company for a while. This turns out to be a big mistake because as the night wears on, Pierre cannot seem to get rid of him. To compound his predicament, Pierre’s wife has just left him, his mistress is angry with him, and Pignon turns out to be a tax inspector. Pierre’s life begins to careen out of control, and since he is helpless with a bad back, he decides to use Pignon to patch things back together again. The more he uses him, however, the worse things get.

Veber enjoys pairing unlikely leads and contrasting personalities for comedic effect. Pierre is a youthful upper crust who fits the businessman stereotype and Pignon surely ranks among the goofiest clowns to stumble on screen -- good enough to win Best Actor at the French Cesar’s. He is truly an awkward dimwit, and the whole fun of the movie is watching Pierre’s life slowly unravel at the hands of his awkward dimwitted guest.

The film is similar in structure to a play or a sitcom since it primarily takes place in one room of an apartment. But don’t let that keep you away because the cast is humorous, the performances are impeccable and it all moves quickly along to a hilarious (and poignant) ending that’s probably too painful for both men to ever make amends.-- Matt Langdon

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1908&reviewer=119
originally posted: 02/23/01 14:49:44
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User Comments

1/14/13 KingNeutron Made me laugh - watched it because of "Hope Springs" 4 stars
5/19/06 chienne Loved it, pissed myself laughing....titles and all...... 5 stars
5/16/04 jsdlfhlsdif dfsjdfljs bad ending 1 stars
4/09/01 ChErRyRiPe Santa just doesn't appreciate a funny french film-im with tigger heather suzanne rick 5 stars
3/29/00 TIGGER funny as! an absolute pisser 5 stars
9/04/99 Rick One of the most satisfying movie meals in a long time. Hopefully, Hollywoood won't option 5 stars
8/19/99 Suzanne Simple yet very witty, like nothing done in America. 5 stars
7/30/99 Heather Very, very funny French farce 5 stars
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  09-Jul-1999 (PG-13)



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