Boy howdy is there a reception on this one. Already it’s being hailed as a contender for one of the worst movies of the year by early ratings and reviews. Really…? I mean, I’ll get to how implausible that sounds because of the cast, but this movie deserves a little history lesson first. Yes, this movie isn’t just some movie. It’s actually, no surprise here, an adaptation of a Dutch novel that was written back in 2009. Thing is… that novel was adapted by the Dutch in 2013, which was met with mixed reviews, likely more negative than positive. Then in 2014, the Italians adapted this book to, again, mixed reviews, but likely more positive than the Dutch version. So I guess now in 2017 we Americans need a slice of that mediocre pie and it looks like we’ve made the worst version of them all. ‘Murica: Improving on other countries’ shit since never!
It’s hard to believe considering the talent here. Steve Coogan (RULES DON’T APPLY , PHILOMENA , OUR IDIOT BROTHER , and the upcoming DESPICABLE ME 3 ), Rebecca Hall (THE BFG , THE GIFT , and THE PRESTIGE ), Richard Gere (NORMAN , CHICAGO , and PRETTY WOMAN ), Laura God damned Linney (NOCTURNAL ANIMALS , THE NANNY DIARIES , and THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE ). How do you do that?! In support, we also have Chloë Sevigny (LOVE & FRIENDSHIP , ZODIAC , and BOYS DON’T CRY ) and Charlie Plummer (TV shows GRANITE FLATS, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and PERSON OF INTEREST).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Oren Moverman, known for RAMPART (2011) and THE MESSENGER (2009). Fun fact, this movie was supposed to be Cate Blanchett’s directorial debut, but for whatever reason, Moverman took her place. Finally the cinematographer is Bobby Bukowski, known for IMPERIUM (2016), 99 HOMES (2014), and RAMPART (2011). I guess this movie doesn’t have a score?
Overall, yup, not looking forward to this. I ought to brace for some torture.
This is my honest opinion of: THE DINNER
A video on Youtube is posted depicting two teenage boys murdering a homeless woman by setting her on fire. These teens are the sons of their respectable and wealthy parents, Stan (Richard Gere), a politician, and Katelyn (Rebecca Hall), his wife, as well as Stan’s school teacher brother Paul (Steve Coogan) and his wife Claire (Laura Linney). They both go on a double date and discuss what to do about the footage and the crime that their respective children have committed.
I paid full price for this.
Holy fuck, this is one of the most despicable movies I’ve seen all year. You read that summary right. That is what this movie is about and there is nothing else to it. It’s pretentious as all fucking hell and has no redeemable values. Get ready for a ton of cursing, folks, because I really hate this movie.
If there was a way for me to instantly hate a movie before the title of the film appears, this achieved that in spades. Already I hate teen archetypes, as if teenagers only ever party, drink, and have sex, but that’s how this movie starts. But you know what, that’s possibly being too harsh. I mean, the opening is only a couple minutes long after all. Out of a 120 minute flick, surely the first couple minutes aren’t all that damning about it. Nope! The rest of the 118 minutes is worse! So much worse!
First of all, I couldn’t get through the first hour before napping. I’m not even entirely sure how much of the film I missed, but I guarantee you, it wasn’t much… or depending on your point of view, not enough. The story doesn’t really kick off until the first hour’s over, and in that first hour, all we get is a shit-load of Coogan narration about who-gives-a-shit. Paul is atrociously unlikable in that he is quick to judge the entirety of the human race and calls everyone “apes.” Yup, apes. As if he is on some grand, higher level of thinking and existence that gives him the clout to look down on everyone around him, when really, he comes off as a petulant child who got one too many hidden Playboy magazines taken from him as a pre-teen. To make matters unbearably frustrating, the movie almost exclusively follows him because that narration of his barely shuts up. His backstory makes no sense either. Paul was a high school teacher who believed that the kids would love him because he would make education fun. But then he goes on multiple tangents about how kids these days don’t want to learn. How can education compete with Facebook, Twitter, and literally rolling off every single social networking site that exists with the surprising exceptions of Myspace and Friendster. The fact that this man is so opposed to social networking and teens with cellphones in general, it’s a gigantic wonder how he even knows the difference between Snapchat and Instagram. Hell, I’m part of that generation myself and I don’t even know the difference! Paul is so pretentious, it’s almost cartoonish, but with zero enjoyment. And you wanna know how we learn all this stuff about Paul? It’s never shown to you in the movie. It’s all done through contrived exposition via voice-over! And in conjunction with the most pointless flashback sequences that I’ve ever seen in a film, I promise any insomniac that this movie will cure the fuck out of you. No promises that it won’t give your soul cancer though.
Notice how I’ve only raved about one character so far. I’d do the same with the rest of the core cast, but honestly, they’re such wallpaper in this movie that I can’t find too much more to say. Gere and Hall barely look like they’re trying to act. Gere is so deadpan in his line deliveries and Hall looks like she’s awkward and fucking miserable. Linney’s definitely trying the hardest out of all of them and it almost works, but due to the lack of connection with anyone’s character or motivations, you’re never interested in anything that she, or anyone for that matter, is saying. It’s a bunch of rich people thinking of ways to use their influence and wealth to keep the matter contained and secure their respective children’s futures.
Ugh, and let’s talk about this… apocalypse of logic. These kids are walking around at night looking for an ATM machine, find one, but a homeless woman is sleeping there. The kids are being fucking little shits by poking her, kicking her, which ultimately escalates to them lighting her on fire, laughing at her as she suffers and dies. All of this is recorded and put on Youtube. The video even has a “sequel coming soon” tagline at the end. First of all, I fucking doubt Youtube would condone someone posting shit like that and having stay up for more than a few seconds. That would be flagged like a mother fucker and the police would be called and taking action far before the rich sleazy parents are done with their first glass of million dollar wine and rare Swahili cheese or whatever the fuck. But never mind that horseshit. These kids are fucking monsters, one of them even tries to justify it by saying that it was a joke. I can’t imagine a single real-world parent that wouldn’t march their kid down to the police station to confess what they did and accept the consequences. Why these parents wouldn’t do the same thing for their kids is beyond me. “Their futures will be ruined!” Yeah, no shit! Their lives are going to be ruined anyway! Send them to church and have them be born again Christians when they get out, but letting them get away with murder is only going to invite a mentality that they can get away with it. What, with their probable busy schedules, are they going to do to keep their murderous teens in line? The teens have little to no respect for their parents, so unless they were planning to lock them up in the cellar and beat them with Bibles until the mere thought of harming even a fly is repulsive, all they’re going to do is rebel and do it again.
This movie isn’t even so bad, it’s entertaining. As I previously stated when I said I fell asleep, this movie is BORING. Boredom as a result of horrendous writing that feels like it’s trying to be deep and insightful through cynicism, but comes off as the psychotic ravings of a moody teenager who got his cellphone taken away by mommy and daddy. To complement the bad writing, there’s a great deal of terrible directing to boot. I distinctly remember in the opening sequence with the partying teenagers where the sequence concludes with a pair of cops entering the party and looking around, supposedly to break it up and possibly arrest someone for underage drinking. Thing is, as you watch, the cops enter, they’re so unemotional that you’d swear they were there to join in on the shenanigans. And no teen has any real reaction to them so I’m wondering just how much of my joke is genuinely a joke. And the editing is lame enough for me to notice how bad it is. In this same scene I’m talking about, the very next shot after the cops walk in to the party is our teenage “protagonists” that we’ll eventually see commit horrible things to a defenseless woman. As most anyone knows, I don’t have an eye for bad editing. So if I can spot it, that should tell you how bad it was.
I don’t think this is a spoiler, but in fear of the idea that there’s at least one person out there that is really excited for this movie and will find it Shakespearean, I will consider this important information that I, as a film-goer who respects the experience of watching a movie in theaters, will treat it as important information. *Sigh* So at first, you think the movie is going to kind of redeem itself when Gere’s character, Stan, is adamant that they turn their children into the police. I don’t know why it took a hundred minutes to get to this point, but fine, something sensible is actually being said in the movie. But then just as your hopes are on the rise that these little wastes of sperm are going to get their comeuppance, it’s fuckin’ Linney’s character that some fucking how manages to bitch and moan enough to change his fucking mind! No! Stan was quickly becoming the best part of the movie, as he was saying that he was going to withdraw his candidacy from being state Senator or whatever the fuck, but no! Reformed-psycho Mom decided to bitch and moan and that was enough to sway him! Fuck this movie, man!
Overall, this movie is beyond frustrating and doesn’t make a lick of real-world sense. This one hurt, people. It really hurt. The stale acting, the atrocious characters, and a myriad of problems from start to finish make this one of the worst movies of the year. No, I do not recommend this to anyone, I don’t care who you’re a fan of. Save your soul from being crushed and skip this forever.
I paid full price for this.
My honest rating for THE DINNER: 1/5