Great Movies V

film 4 of 6

Dinner for Two

Film Review by Dean Duncan Jul 31, 2015

This superb film sermon was partly funded by UNICEF and Justice Canada. You bet it has an agenda, but it’s also a great example of how it is too possible for films to be instructive and entertaining at the same time. I seem to recall Aristotle making a similar point, somewhere or other. It’s something we resist though, and that really is a pity.

We’ve all got lessons to learn! Kids especially. Well, and their parents too. On the other hand, no one likes to be harangued, or nagged at. How do you reconcile that? Director Janet Perlman and her able collaborators do so by being pointed but not preachy, by exposing hostile impulse and at the same time understanding how it can be so attractive, even seem so necessary. They model activism and intervention, but gently, and without any airs or sanctimoniousness. Their comic craft is impeccable, but it never obscures or dilutes a very serious purpose.

Aristotle’s name got dropped up there, but Jesus might be the more appropriate referent. Dinner for Two is a really rich moral parable. It’s full of convincing psychological and physical detail, which is part of what makes it so palatable. It contains a lesson, and some instruction going forward. In this it leaves you feeling both reproved and encouraged. You need to do better, it says. You can do it, it says, and pretty easily. Plus, unlike the writings of Aristotle and Jesus, it features that dear little frog guy.

Really great stuff, in other words. See if you agree: