Prentiss Riddle: Movies

aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada

Prentiss Riddle

home art austin books
causes chuckles garden
kids language movies
music time toys travel
Search this site

Archive by date
Archive by title

My Dinner With Your Friends and Neighbors DX

Melvin Goes to Dinner is like a kinder, gentler Neil LaBute movie cast into the dinner conversation genre.

It concerns four thirty-something friends and friends-of-friends who meet by chance for dinner. As in My Dinner With Andre the focus is on their wide-ranging conversation, in this case everything from metaphysics to their sex lives. Unlike Andre, the film jumps around chronologically and takes us out of the restaurant for some back story. As in LaBute's Your Friends and Neighbors, the characters are lost souls who mess with the minds of those around them, but in contrast to LaBute their cruelties are not deliberate and they are capable of feeling remorse.

I saw the movie last night as part of the Alamo's "Best of SxSW" series. As you might imagine from a SxSW favorite it's a very "small" film and the smallness shows. Production values are slim, the script has awkward patches and the acting has rough spots. The unpolished unknowns who are the four principals don't fare well in the reflected light of a few cameos by people who can really act, such as Maura Tierney and Jack Black (the Mr. Show guys also appear but they just make the semi-amateurs look good by comparison). Melvin started slow and made me skeptical at first, but won me over by the end. Some genuinely hilarious, poignant and thought-provoking moments made up for its flaws. Even a string of unlikely coincidences (except for one) turns out to be resolved in a way that makes the movie vulnerable to spoilers. Well worth seeing if you get the chance, and let's hope it launches director Bob Odenkirk on to more polished movies in the future.

Melvin Goes to Dinner Super Happy Fun Monkey Bash DX

In other Alamo news I also saw the Alamo's homemade Super Happy Fun Monkey Bash DX, a collection of outrageous (to us gaijin, anyway) Japanese tv commercials and sketch comedy routines. It was spill-your-popcorn funny although it had its uncomfortable moments -- I prefer my scatological humor verbal, not pictorial, thank you. It relied a bit heavily on the comedy duo Downtown and especially their Aho Aho Man, a superhero who resembles Jerry Lewis in a leaky diaper.

For a taste, the Alamo has a trailer online. If they show it again I recommend it highly, especially for fans of Jackass and

Super Happy Fun Monkey Bash DX does beg the question of whether it would be funnier or less funny to people with a knowledge of Japanese language and culture. The so-bad-it's-good parts might just be so-bad-it's-bad, whereas the bizarro commercials might be ho-hum ordinary. Could be that unlike, the joke's on us. Adam, Jenny, care to venture an opinion?

movies 2003.07.22 link