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flick pick | Melvin Goes to Dinner 2003
Directed by: Bob Odenkirk
Written by: Michael Blieden
Starring: Michael Blieden, Stephen Courtney, Matt Price, Anabelle Gurwitch, Kathleen Roll, Maura Tierney
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy, drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: witty 
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis Melvin's life hasn't been going so well. Since dropping out of med school, he's been floating through his life. He spends his days working a go-nowhere position that he only managed to get thanks to his sister, who's now his boss. When he's not at work, he's sneaking around with a woman he really shouldn't be seeing at all. One day, his old friend Joey accidentally dials him up (he was trying to call someone else and hit the wrong number on speed dial). Joey invites him to meet up for dinner that evening, and Melvin says sure. By the end of the day, though, he's realized that he's not in the mood for socializing after all. Though he nearly bails on Joey to spend a quiet evening with his sister instead, a fight between the siblings leaves Melvin resorting to the original plan. He shows up at the restaurant, and discovers Joey deep in conversation at a dinner table with two women that Melvin doesn't know. Joey introduces Alex, a friend of his from business school, and Sarah, a friend of Alex's. Soon, the four strangers find themselves deep in conversation, as the wine flows, and talk shifts from how they know each other into ghosts, religion, porn, sex, adultery and relationships.

Review Watching a movie in which 90% of the "action" takes place around a dinner table may not sound like the most exciting thing in the world. And when my quick look at the back of the box revealed that the movie was based on a play by the same writer, I have to admit, I was skeptical. Having seen one two many movies-based-on-plays that essentially looked like someone turned a video camera on a stage production, I've found that often, what works in the theatre environment doesn't always translate so well to film. Still, I'm a sucker for talky clever flicks about the life and times of angsty quasi-adults, which is why the boy and I ended up picking this DVD off the shelf at our local video store, despite the fact that we had never heard of it. Melvin Goes to Dinner turned out to be a pleasant surprise. A movie centered around four folks sitting around a table only works if the dialogue is good, and the rapport between the four characters feels totally natural. Director Odenkirk and writer Blieden, along with the fine cast, do a great job of making you feel like you're eavesdropping on a real conversation amongst real (albeit, highly articulate) people. Listening to Melvin, Joey, Alex and Sarah talk (and talk and talk) reminded me of some of my favorite late-night conversations with my favorite smart people -- where earnest debate about the big weighty issues of Love, Death, and Religion mingled with revelations about our own little lives. Anyone who has ever had one of these talkfests in real life knows that occasional degeneration into pseudo-deep philosophical posturing is almost unavoidable, but for the most part the movie's fine sense of humor saves it from getting too precious. Very funny and oddly sweet as well, Melvin Goes to Dinner just may provide the best dinner conversation you'll enjoy all year. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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