The Dinner Game is a laugh-out-loud comedy in which the haughty practical jokester brings about his own ruin. The “dinner” in the film’s title refers to the weekly gathering of a group of friends who invite the stupidest men they can find as companions, mock them during the course of the evening, and then vote to determine who brought the biggest idiot that week. However, the table is turned when one of the key players, Brochant (Lhermitte), throws out his back and must spend the evening in the company of his “idiot,” Pignon (Villeret), a tax auditor who constructs architectural models out of matchsticks. Pignon’s every effort to help Brochant, a wealthy publisher, leads to one catastrophe after another—“He drives your wife into adultery and you into a tax audit. What a feat!”—mistaking Brochant’s wife for his mistress, revealing Brochant’s tax evasions to the city’s leading tax auditor, and further injuring Brochant’s back along with his pride. The only food shown in this French farce is an omelet with fines herbes, along with a vintage bottle of wine deliberately ruined by the addition of vinegar, but it nevertheless provides a full menu of hilarious scenes.
Released (U.S.A.) June 25, 1999
Directed by Francis Veber
Written by Francis Veber and Andy Borowitz
Starring Thierry Lhermitte as Pierre Brochant, Jacques Villeret as François Pignon, Francis Huster as Juste Leblanc, Daniel Prévost as Lucien Cheval, Alexandra Vandernoot as Christine Brochant, and Catherine Frot as Marlène Sasseur
Awards: 1999 César Awards for Best Actor (Villeret), Best Supporting Actor (Prévost), and Best Writing (Veber); 1999 Lumiere Award for Best Actor (Villeret) and Best Screenplay (Veber)