THE DINNER” – 4 out of 10


In a word:  Annoying

     Our theater was about half full, perhaps 50-plus people. About 30 minutes into the film, I noticed the first couple get up and leave. Well, perhaps someone wasn’t feeling well. The notion of leaving occurred to us as well but we’d stay a while to see where it goes. Then, about one hour – the halfway mark – another couple left, followed by another two a few minutes later. By the time it hit the 1:20 mark, we’d had it.  So, that’s 8 walk-outs, and I have no idea how many followed us.

     We had read the 3 out of 4-star rating by AP writer, Lindsey Bahr, who had glowing comments to offer, and a bit of criticism. Advice: Don’t pay any attention to Ms. Bahr’s ratings of movies. She should find another genre to write within.

     The problem with the movie wasn’t the acting, the players performed their roles well. The problem was with the direction by Oren Moverman, who also wrote the screenplay adaptation from a novel by Herman Koch. The movie constantly splinters off into flashbacks, short-range and long-range, some of which seem unrelated to the basic plot, making it hard for the audience to keep track.

     Moverman starts the film with two full minutes of darkness filled with booming, ear-splitting rap crap, causing my wife and me to cover our ears.  Had it gone on any longer, we’d have left right then. Whatever the purpose, it added nothing to the story.

     The write-ups refer to this being a conflict between two married couples, one of whom is a politician running for governor (Richard Gere) and his wife. The others include Gere’s wacky brother (play by Steve Coogan) and wife (Laura Linney). The setting is an opulent restaurant serving tongue-twisters as appetizers, and a verbose maître’d followed by a gaggle of stiff waiters showing off their “class.”

     The real focus of the story is the Steve Coogan character, an out of work, casutic school teacher with mental problems. He sees wealth as the root of all world problems and rambles about American history and world atrocities, often in flashback embarking on long vulgar speeches to teenage kids in class, making one wonder how it had anything to do with the story. Coogan is the focus of the movie, because he’s either crazy or afflicted with Tourette’s or some other syndrome. 

     The basic plot is supposed to be about Coogan’s character who inadvertently learned that his son had committed a serious crime with his buddies. Gere’s ego-maniacal character assembled the dinner to troubleshoot and suppress the incident from publicity. Why he would root this in a highly public arena instead of a private setting is baffling.

     The movie could have been limited to a one-hour short-story film, without all the fluff and idiocy that seemed as though Oren Moverman was trying to show-off his directorial prowess…needlessly. It could be that the last 40 minutes of the movie ultimately answered a lot of questions about plot and character, but we’ll never know. Neither, will we care.

     Because acting was good, I’ll give the move a 4. Otherwise, it would be less.

Click here: The Dinner (2017) – IMDb





  1. Laura Petruska May 6, 2017 at 9:41 am #

    I read the book and it was pretty brutal. When I read the book it reminded me of the classic movie “Conversations with Gide,” which was also brutal. Personally, the book was a bore and I could only think that the characters in a movie would also be a bore. Family fighting never causes much interest … movies are for escape. Great review …better than any movie!

  2. JustMe May 6, 2017 at 9:50 am #

    Good review.
    As with most Hollywood movies/ tv shows, they digress somewhere in the film to lecturing the public about some of Hollywood’s radical soap boxes such as them being anti- American, anti-military, supporting the Global Warming/Climate Change/ Weather hoax, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam.
    That is the reason for their rambling on in the movie that you noted. They love having a captive audience who paid a bunch of money to see their product, rightly guessing that most people won’t get up and leave when they insult our country etc.
    Please Hollywood- Just give us a great story with great acting and leave your thinly-disguised soap box rants on the cutting room floor.

  3. Eileen May 6, 2017 at 11:03 am #

    Thanks for the info. Your review jives with the feeling I had after reading the synopsis in yesterday’s newspaper. I like Richard Gere, but I’m sometimes disappointed with the movies in which he chooses to participate.

  4. Jkr May 6, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Richard Gere has made two or three films in recent years, each of which reaches tv in a short time. That should tell us something about their quality.
    The ones I have glanced at were on tv and not worth more than a couple of minutes of our time.

    He became over-the-hill rapidly and his stupid statements shortly after 9-11 cost him popularity and likely contracts.

  5. Jack Milavic May 6, 2017 at 11:08 am #

    Thank you , Sir, for the review. It sounds a lot like the Book “Inferno” and I threw it away about half way through. I would imagine the movie adaptation of the Inferno most people walked out also.

  6. Donald May 6, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    Glad to read your review. I had planned to see this movie, mostly because I like Richard Here, but now I will pass on this one. Thanks.

  7. Dennis McGroarty May 6, 2017 at 4:08 pm #

    I’m not a critic, but I believe that films reached their peak in the 30’s thru mid 60’s. All
    the great actors and actresses, writers and directors are gone. Today the only movies
    that are any good are remakes of the old movies. There is no acting today. It is covered
    up by technology and computer graphics. Sci-fi is probably the best genre today for
    entertainment. Turner Classic Movies show some of the best films, however with
    Robert Osborne’s death I hope Alec Baldwin doesn’t become the new permanent
    By the way Marshall you didn’t see any gerbils before the Rap music, did you?