The Dinner Game (Le Diner De Cons)

on June 25, 1999 by Michelle Santilli
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   "The Dinner Game" is a wonderfully funny film with masterfully executed writing, directing and acting. Scripter/helmer Francis Veber has created a classic piece of comedy which inspires many laugh-out-loud moments. Built upon a very simple premise, this witty farce includes slapstick physical humor, situational absurdity and marvelously shrewd wordplay. Veber's superbly clever dialogue is deftly handled by actors Thierry Lhermitte and Jacques Villet, who fluidly perform the tango of timing.
   Lhermitte is Pierre, the snide publisher who every Wednesday meets with his elite cronies for an "idiot's dinner"--the one who brings the biggest fool wins. This week's buffoon, Francois (a brilliantly simple Villet), sculpts major architectural works using matchsticks. Of course Francois, who has come to this night's game hoping to publish a coffee table book of his matchstick masterpieces, has no idea that he has been duped. But when he discovers the real reason for the supper, we find out who the true fool is, for Pierre has significantly underestimated his would-be patsy.
   It is refreshing to see a film which succeeds without relying on special effects or exotic locations, since the majority of "The Dinner Game" takes place inside the publisher's apartment. This low-budget gem shines on the merits of Veber's direction of his excellent script and the talent of the actors. "The Dinner Game" is such a mastery of French farce that it will be quite a task for DreamWorks, who recently acquired English-language remake rights, to top it. Starring Jacques Villeret, Thierry Lhermitte, Francis Huster and Daniel Prevost. Directed and written by Francis Veber. Produced by Alain Poire. A Lions Gate release. Comedy. French-language; subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 80 min
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