A Generational Film
Dinner in America
(likely R) –
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Year Released: 2020 (Sundance Film Festival,) 2022 (Wide release)
Runtime: 1h 46m
Director(s): Adam Rehmeier
Writer(s): Adam Rehmeier
Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Griffin Gluck, Pat Healy, Mary Lynn Rajskub, David Yow, Hannah Marks, Nick Chinlund, Lea Thompson
Where To Watch: in select theaters on May 27 and video-on-demand on June 7
An achievement of massive proportions on a small scale! Kyle Gallner (Simon) and Emily Skeggs (Patty) lead a tremendous coming-of-age story as unconventional as they come. I’ve mentioned it before, but one of my favorite parts of reviewing screeners is that I don’t dig too deeply into what I’m getting. It is often based on the name, a poster, or word of mouth. That’s why it’s so exciting when I have a surprise like this. I had no clue what to expect; I had seen some mentions of “punk-rock,” but other than that, it was a complete surprise.
DINNER IN AMERICA explores adolescence in the rawest way I’ve ever seen on screen. Skeggs steals the show with pure emotion, excitement, and innocence all at the same time. Gallner playing opposite Skeggs offers a perfect yin and yang balance. The unapologetic tone of the film helps set the stage for a movie that is more authentic than most that I’ve seen before.
You’ll likely also recognize appearances by Lea Thompson (BACK TO THE FUTURE, HOWARD THE DUCK) and Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, and many other TV shows and movies) in what were more minor but just as passionate roles! The cast in a film like this is one of the most important elements because if they can’t sell the story, it won’t be worth the watch. Writing, directing, and acting combine to create a once-in-a-lifetime combination that will stay with me for years to come.
Each generation sees new “coming of age films” THE LAST PICTURE SHOW, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, DAZED AND CONFUSED, MEAN GIRLS, LADY BIRD, and now DINNER IN AMERICA join a lineup of instant classics. While this one may be a little more graphic, I think that it’s defining of the times. Cinema should give a mirror of what life is like, and this did just that; the reality of a Midwestern suburb is an interesting place, and thanks to this film, everyone can see a little window into that reality.
I’m very excited to dive into director Adam Rehmeier’s filmography; I’m interested in seeing what other creations have been hiding away. This was a hands-down, no doubt about it, top ten film of the year!
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