Melvin Goes To Dinner
***.4 GM
Starring: Michael Blieden, Stephanie Courtney, Annabelle Gurwitch, Matt Price, Maura Tierney, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Jack Black

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SUNDANCE REVIEW (which means I'm doing a lot of reviews in a hurry, so they might be shorter and less fantastical):

This was my 'alternative festival' moment, and it proved infinitely better than last year's R.S.V.P. debacle. "Melvin Goes To Dinner" was quite good, in the 'people at a table just talking to each other' genre. The dialogue was quick, smart and funny, and that managed to happen with sound difficulties that I didn't even notice. Hopefully it doesn't suffer the same fate as Run Ronnie Run and languish in unreleased obscurity.

What brought myself and a lot of other zanies to this screening is the name strength of the "Mr. Show" geniuses (geniui?) Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. Cross only has a bit role in it, but his presence is welcomed at any time. Bob's got a tiny (but effective) part as well, but he's the director of the damned thing, and he does a really good job with what he's got. It's just the story of four people - some are strangers to each other, some are acquaintances and part-time friends - that happen to meet up at a restaurant one night and, instead of the awkward, stilted conversation that would come from this kind of gathering, it winds up being a deep, involved, revealing and funny discussion about everything from ghost stories to butt sex. It's definitely not in the vein of the loud and nutty "Mr. Show" series, but it IS somewhat like the conversation you might imagine having with some of these guys if you went to dinner with them.

As I'm sure everyone is well aware, if an entire film is just going to be four schmucks yammering at each other, these schmucks better damn well be interesting schmucks, and the script by Bleidel (who also plays Melvin) does not drop the ball. It's very real, well-constructed and flows believably. The performances are charismatic and involving enough to carry it through any coincidences that might be hard to take.

If you get a chance, check this one out.

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