French Cinema , The Secret of Success.
mobby_uk | London United Kingdom | 10/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"From Cocteau and Renoir to Besson and Ozon, French cinema has earned its deserved place as one of the best in the world. The Nouvelle Vague started by a group of film critics, among them were Truffaut and Goddard, who were unhappy by the then state of cinema and wanted a change that they saw was not forthcoming too soon, so they went on and did their own movies and in the process forever changed the way films are directed, written, edited and as equally important analyzed too.
It is the cinema that Hollywood often seeks refuge in when original ideas have dried up,to remake and readapt classic films.
However, unlike in Britain and America,French cinema did not excel in all genres.
Science fiction and horror are almost non existant, and thrillers are few and far between nowadays,while action movies were only given a recent revival by the likes of Besson,(influenced by Hollywood and taking advantage of the new advances in the technology).Instead what French cinema excelled in were the drama/romance and comedy genres. Strangely only the latter remained largely confined to France and the francophone countries,although with actors like Fernandel, Pierre Richard, Bouvril, 'Les Charlots' and the genuis that was Louis De Funes,and directors like Claude Zidi and Gerard Oury, the output was very rich and funny.
Not until Dinner Game that is.
Francis Veber, another brilliant comedy writer/director who was responsible for classic hits (many remade by Hollywood, such as the Toy, the Man with one Red Shoe, and The Fugitives),managed finally with The Dinner Game to take French comedies from the confines of the domestic market and of very few enthusiasts around the globe, to worldwide commercial fame.
And in a way it is an inevitable outcome, for The Dinner Game is one of the best written comedy of all time in any language,and this where the secret of its success firmly lies: The writing.
Francois Pignon, the character that Veber invented and used in his earlier movies with Pierre Richard in La Chevre and Les Comperes, is the main ingredient of the success behind The Dinner Game.
A lonely person,down on his luck, with failed or non existant relationships,clumsy, getting himself and others into deep trouble, but with a heart of gold,always trying to help as best as he knows how, or trying at least to redress the difficult situation he put himself in.
This of course brings out many laughs, but there is a twist.
Unlike most characters in comedies, Francois Pignon, and especially in The Dinner Game is a much more complex person that it seems. The character is multi-layered, and the funny Pignon we laugh so much with, hides also a sadness we see glimpses of in his eyes, not too long to ruin the comic pace, but just enough to give him enough depth and poignancy.This is why underneath all the fun, we sympathize closely with Pignon, turning him into a small champion.As is the norm in French Cinema, there is a lot of analytical/psychological, three dimensional approach to their characters, even in comedies.
And of course, there is so much laughter in this movie. The situation comedy can not get any better.From the very start,
A group of well to do obnoxious 'yuppies' like to invite 'idiots' to a dinner and make fun of and humiliate, just for quicks. Thierry Lhermitte, a member of this group, however will soon bite much more than he can chew, nearly ruining his life when he meets his new 'idiot', Francois Pignon, played perfectly by Jacques Villeret.I believe he is the best Pignon! His expressions, his childish enthusiasm, geniune regret, twisted problem solving and reasoning, are so well portrayed on screen.
The beauty of Dinner Game is the fact that at the end, Pignon, who represent a silent majority triumphs against all odds, and the ones whom society always applauds: the rich, strong,powerful,and priviledged have been put in their right place, if only temporarily.
This makes Dinner Game one of the best comedies ever written, it will make you laugh no matter how many times you watch it,but it offers much much more, and this is the secret of its success and with it French Cinema."
A great gem of a movie
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 09/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"After reading postive reviews on [Amazon.com] about this movie, I decided to check it out for myself. This is a great movie! The set up is as follows...a group of guys get together once a week and they have to bring the biggest idiot they can find to a dinner party. Whoever brings the biggest idiot wins. Thing is, the people who they consider idiots are completely unaware of the contest. This is similiar to college fraternities having an ugly girl contest, where each member has to find the ugliest girl they can, and bring her to the party.Anyway, Pierre Brochant, played by Thierry Lhermitte, finds what he believes is the all time supreme idiot in Francois Pignon, played by Jacques Villeret. Francois particular specialty is constructing elaborate replicas of famous landmarks out of toothpicks. Pierre, who is a publisher, invites Francois to the dinner under the guise of the possibility of doing a book with regards to his models. Francois meets Pierre at Pierre's apartment, and the comedy ensues. It's not slapsticky comedy, but intelligent fare, as we see a fairly detestable individual, Pierre, get what he deserves back in spades as things just keep going wrong. Francois appears to be a harmless, nebbish sort of fellow, but the more he tries to help his new 'friend' Pierre, the worse things just seem to get.The pacing was excellent, and the humor right on the mark. Given the popularity of this movie in France, I wouldn't be suprised to see Hollywood attempt to remake this movie, but as we've seen before, so often these remakes tend to lose the charm and originality as American producers and executives decide how best to 'improve' on a movie because they are so in tune with what American audiences like."
Funny, really funny
mobby_uk | 08/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh mon dieu! Ce film est tres drole! It didn't make me laugh the whole way through, but then again, no movie ever has. The plot concerns a group of stuck-up upper class french guys who get their kicks by trying to find the biggest idiot they can and inviting them to dinner. Once the idiots get together, the fun is watching them talk. As you can probably tell, these guys are not the nicest out there and they probably deserve their comeuppance (spelling?). Well, don't worry 'cause one of the rich guys, a publisher perfectly played by Thierry Lhermitte accidentaly throws out his back the night of an idiot dinner. (In French, un diner de con). His invited idiot decides it is his duty to stay and help Thierry since his wife seems to be absent...
What follows, not suprisingly is top-grade humor. Few actual punchlines are to be found, which is somehow even funnier. Just because you liked, say, American Pie (I did) doesn't mean you'll hate this, but I would recommend staying away from this if you've never laughed at anything but a poo-poo joke. For the record, I think the "Belgian" phone call is one of the funniest things I have ever seen along with the expression on the tax auditor's face when he finds out where his wife is. SEE THIS MOVIE"
Worth every Euro!
James Oberacker | Los Alamitos, CA USA | 09/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came in on the middle of this film on HBO one afternoon while flipping through channels. I paused for a moment, got hooked, and spent the next hour laughing like a crazed fool. This is perhaps the funniest movie I have seen in the past decade. When you think it can't get any worse for the main character, or any funnier, it does! Having missed the first 30 minutes on HBO, I rushed out to buy the DVD, and have enjoyed watching this film again and again. It's PG-13, namely because of a few bad words and some content dealing with adultery."