Video Picks Archive

April 26, 2000
This Week's Video Picks
Back to Archive

Reviews by Matt Heffernan <>

This week my picks are Le dîner de cons (The Dinner Game) (1998 - ) and The Birdcage (1996 - ).

The first film this week was a big hit in its native France, but had only a limited run in the U.S. Thierry Lhermitte stars as a wealthy snob who invites a buffoon (Jaques Villeret) to a dinner with his friends -- a "Dinner for Idiots" contest to see who can bring the most amusing fool. Lhermitte injures his back playing golf, and tries to call off the dinner, but he invited Villeret to his house already. In the course of one afternoon together, Villeret manages to destroy Lhermitte's life. There is nothing sophisticated about the farce in The Dinner Game, but Francis Veber's film only wants to incite laughter, which it does from beginning to end. Villeret's idiot (which he played to great acclaim on the French stage) earned him a César Award (the French Oscar) for Best Actor that was richly deserved. However, the academy chose The Dreamlife of Angels for the Best Film honors.
Full review from August 15, 1999

Most of Veber's films get remade in America, and The Dinner Game is in line to become Dinner For Schmucks, also to be directed by Veber. One of the most successful remakes was of his 1978 classic La cage aux folles. Mike Nichols reunited with his old partner, Elaine May, to make The Birdcage in 1996. Robin Williams and Nathan Lane star as a gay couple that raised Williams' son, who is going to get married. His fiancée (Calista Flockhart, in an early film role) is the daughter of an ultra-conservative senator (Gene Hackman), so Lane disguises himself as a woman (it is his career, after all) for their meeting. Yet another silly farce, but done with great style and sharp humor. It's the kind of film that Williams is best at, but is too often concerned with making sentimental dreck. If you want to know more about the team behind this film, contributor Lauren Snyder has a wonderful website about Nichols and May, which you can see here.

For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
Le dîner de cons (1998)
The Birdcage (1996)

Here's some merchandise for sale at
The Dinner Game (1998) - English Subtitles -- VHS
The Dinner Game (1998) -- DVD
The Birdcage (1996) -- VHS
The Birdcage (1996) -- VHS Widescreen
The Birdcage (1996) -- DVD
The Birdcage: The Shooting Script, by Elaine May -- Paperback
The Birdcage: Original United Artists Motion Picture Soundtrack -- Compact Disc Home
Review Archive
Guide to Star Ratings

Capsule Reviews © 2000 Matt Heffernan