Starring: Michael Blieden, Stephanie Courtney, Matt Price
Director: Bob Odenkirk
Running Time: 83 mins
Melvin Goes To Dinner is an American film about a man who ends up spending a long evening in a restaurant sitting and talking at a table with his best friend and two strangers.
I really found this film a frustrating watch. Although its premise is fairly original, and it does have some good comedic moments, it’s a movie that’s completely all over the place with its story structure – in part to a deliberate extent. However, that means it’s really difficult to get a hold on what’s going on with Melvin Goes To Dinner from the start, and given the less-than-exceptional screenplay and dialogue, it’s even harder to stay interested right the way through.
Let’s start off, briefly, with the good parts of the film. Above all, I liked the originality of the premise, a long, complex conversation unfolding between four people who don’t really know all that much about one another, and trying to understand them through the many anecdotes they tell, in rather genuine real-world fashion.
Secondly, there are a couple of laughs here and there. The movie is by no means hilarious, but some of the sillier moments that arise in the conversation, particularly in a couple of the more ridiculous anecdotes told, did make me chuckle a little.
With that said, there wasn’t really anything else about Melvin Goes To Dinner that endeared me. While it’s funny at times, and the dialogue is fairly realistic, it’s a film that doesn’t quite have the charisma and charm to keep you engaged watching what is effectively an hour and a half-long discussion.
Now, that wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the story at hand could still engage you in any way, however that’s not the case here, as Melvin Goes To Dinner flies back and forth between anecdotes in rather manic and almost incomprehensible fashion, confusing and frustrating me from the start as it takes away from the development of the characters at the dinner table.
Of course, with the rather haphazard nature of flashbacks and anecdotes being played out on screen, director Odenkirk is recreating the real atmosphere of a conversation at the dinner table, but when it comes to making a film about that, you have to engage an audience that’s a little more detached from the core of the conversation, something that’s done by clearer character development, and simply more interesting or charismatic drama and comedy.
Overall, I found Melvin Goes To Dinner a really rather frustrating film. It’s not absolutely awful, but it really doesn’t impress when it comes to a fully engrossing story, due to an incredibly messy screenplay centred on the deliberately haphazard delivery of anecdotes at the dinner table, but without the satisfaction of things coming together neatly towards the finale, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.4.