DINNER IN AMERICA – FANTASIA 2020 REVIEW

From an external perspective, America looks like one hell of ugly looking place. And I’m not just talking exclusively about politics here. The gentrified suburbs that pander to the central white demographic have been consistently parodied and criticized in most nuanced horror flicks and satires regarding the subject. Truth be told, America’s modern suburbia is a nightmare. It’s like a disease that consistently spreads around the globe, further infiltrating different countries with it’s pandering, whitewashed appeal. Canada is now a very frequent offender of this issue, especially with our problematic past enhancing and even glorifying this issue. In Adam Rehmeier’s Dinner in America, his latest feature is a rather toothless and unfortunate commentary on the miserable crevices of suburbia and the influences that further sprout from this hellish landscape. 

The film is primarily a punk-rock examination on the routes of class and income, in which it follows musician and convict on the run Simon, as he navigates the suburbs of America while dealing drugs, hiding away from cops, and encountering a variety of colorful gentrified characters.  Simon however, is an ass hat; plain and simple. With a grungy edge lord filled with disdain as our main protagonist, Dinner in America’s first half is nearly unbearable. The constant bickering and banter from both sides ultimately add nothing to the film’s focus. Rehmeier’s script just merely mocks the gentrifiers, although fails at even offering some sort of nuance or provocation. The film is pointless in its pompous conversations and parody, as it constantly seeks for something to latch onto; an actual narrative structure perhaps. 

Thankfully, as we learn more about the key players and the adorable Patty — portrayed by the talented Emily Skeggs, the film finally picks up its feet and evolves into a subversive and oddly submissive romantic comedy. Rock, punk, and living breathing walking cliches, the second half of Dinner in America is a perfectly formidable and darkly comedic romcom that doesn’t offer all that much to the table, outside of the occasional original song banger. It’s a buddy comedy without much of a soul, an obnoxious character study that features a raucous protagonist at its core. 

A crude, lewd, and drastically misconstrued descent into the hellscape of modern day America, one would expect a film of this sort of grandiose premise to be a grand feast of different flavors and variety. Instead, it’s a microwavable meal, in which what appears on paper as some sort of delicious delacy, ends up becoming something rather disappointing and tasteless. By no means an awful film, this reckless Sundance selected feature is only occasionally fun and intellectually invigorating. At its worst, it only further glorifies the annoying subjects it parodies. At its best, it’s a lively genre flick with a happy-go lucky lovebird duo.

Dinner In America screened digitally at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival, as part of the festival’s official selection

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