Sunday, October 11, 2020

Dinner in America - 2020 Nightstream Film Festival Movie Review

The Movie: Dinner in America

The Director: Adam Rehmeier

The Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Griffin Gluck, Pat Healy, Mary Lynn Rajskub, David Yow, Hannah Marks, Nick Chinlund, Lea Thompson

The Story: An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band unexpectedly fall in love and go on an epic journey together through America's decaying Midwestern suburbs.

The Review:
Sometimes a movie hits in a way that connects with the outcast youth not just of the current generation but of every generation and this movie is that from beginning to end. Fueled by a punk rock personality, director Adam Rehmeier's movie sometimes literally punches people in the face to get its point across. Universal themes of bullying, poverty, classism, dysfunctional families, and the pain of thinking you don't fit in are all explored with an aggressive approach that is somehow also very endearing.

Simon and Patty are an unlikely duo that start out as awkward and unlikely companions and then end up going on the tamest high school version ever of Natural Born Killers and I mean that in a good way. The heart of the story is found in discovering the similarities and compatibilities between two young adults who really should have no business falling in love and yet there they are. What I really like is how this ends up being a coming of age tale for the young and naïve Patty while at the same time, Simon slowly realizes that drugs and violence may not always be the right answer to solving his problems.

Aside from the two main characters, played beautifully by Kyle Gallner and Emily Skeggs, there is also an endless stream of cameo appearances from the likes of Hannah Marks, Pat Healy, Lea Thompson and more. Thompson basically recaptures the magic of Marty McFly's drunkenly sedated mom that we see at the beginning of the Back to the Future movies and the only way I can describe the brief performance is that it is of course timeless. I wish Hannah Marks had been in more of the movie but what she does is spot on brilliant as usual and who doesn't enjoy any Pat Healy performance whether he is laying it all on the line for money in Cheap Thrills or playing a scientist in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Let me talk about Watermelon for a moment and no I don't mean the fruit although it is delicious and one of my favorites. Watermelon is a beautifully written punk pop ballad that is essentially a culmination of what happens over the course of the movie and the moment on screen when Simon and Patty record the song is a thing that I will remember for a long, long time. You know those movies you love because they have that one scene or that one song that just hits you in every which way possible? This is that scene and Watermelon is that song.

The Verdict:
Dinner in America takes that classic slice of apple pie Americana, smashes it with a guitar, lights it on fire, and then rewrites it into a punk rock anthem that you can't help but sing along to.

To see more reviews, interviews, and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at Nightstream 2020.

To keep track of all my reviews and festival coverage please go to: TwoOhSix at Reel Love 2021.

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