Michael Blieden, Stephanie Courtney, Matt Price, Annabelle Gurwitch
Melvin: I don’t know what it is, but I won’t commit to plans. I hate doing it, and I won’t do it!
Joey: Well…no wonder you have no friends…
Four people have dinner together and talk about various topics. The longer they talk, the more personal secrets they reveal.
Movies like this, which just feature people talking to each other for an hour and half, can be risky. It all hinges on two things, as far as I’m concerned: are the people likable and is the conversation interesting? In the case of the movies Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, I thought the answer to both questions was “yes”. In the case of this movie, the answer is, “occasionally”. It’s basically like any random conversion you might eavesdrop on at a restaurant. Every 10 or 15 minutes you might actually hear something interesting.
The characters are Melvin (Blieden), Joey (Price), Alex (Courtney), and Sarah (Gurwitch). We are introduced to them in a series of flashbacks that show how they ended up arriving at the restaurant. Alex is a woman that Joey knew in college, and she’s in town for the day and wants to just catch up with her friend. Joey invites Melvin along because they haven’t seen each other in a long time either. Alex runs into her old friend Sarah on the street near the restaurant and invites her to join them. The movie also features several curious cameos from people like Jenna Fischer (Pam on The Office), Jack Black, Maura Tierney, Fred Armisen, and Laura Kightlinger.
I won’t go too much into the topics of conversation, but they touch on all the standard topics: religion, sex, relationships, etc. Some of it sounds natural, while other chunks of it feels overly scripted, like the writer (who also happens to be Blieden) really wants to get his various ideas about the topics out there. Unfortunately, much of the conversation centers on the fact that all of these characters either have had, or are actively having, affairs with married people. Not to be Mr. Judgmental, but is this the norm? They speak about it so flippantly that it seems like an almost expected part of life. This adds to some of the lack of likability I alluded to previously.
In the end, that’s really the problem. I just didn’t like these people enough to care about what they were saying. Even though there’s an interesting twist at the end, and even a touching moment with one character, by that time I was just tired of listening to them. If I had been invited to this dinner, I think I would have made up an excuse and gone home long before the credits rolled.
Everybody cheats on everybody.
10 – 2 for often unlikable characters – 2.1 for too many dull/unoriginal conversations – .4 for some moments of sub-par acting = 5.5