Streaming Review

Dinner in America review – likably scrappy suburban dramedy

Gross-out comedy gradually makes way for a rote but undeniably charming romance in Adam Rehmeier's Midwestern caper

The inescapable bleakness of suburbia and the potential for horrific discomfort at family dinners are two of the most heavily mined tropes in American dramedy, so it takes something pretty extraordinary to stand out from this crowd. Adam Rehmeier’s Ben Stiller-produced Dinner in America does not reach that level, and is unlikely to be remembered for long after the credits roll, but nevertheless makes for an enjoyable ride for its 100-or-so minutes runtime.

Simon (Kyle Gallner) is a cult-favourite punk musician on the lam in the suburban Midwest after committing some light arson. While running from the police, he finds sheltered 20-year-old Patty (Emily Skeggs), whose quiet family home makes for a perfect hiding place, boosted by the fact that Patty just so happens to be Simon’s biggest fan.

What follows won’t exactly surprise, as Simon’s initial hostility and dinner-ruining abrasiveness fades away, slowly falling for Patty’s innocent charms and helping out her high-strung family by introducing them to pot brownies. In a nice touch, though, Rehmeier has the film itself following the same arc as Simon – it starts out with heaps of gross-out humour but slowly transitions into a more accessible romcom that is rather rote but undeniably charming.

Showdowns with local bullies, first dates, and romantic recording sessions are all pulled off with a sincerity and sense of fun that elevates them past their initial predictability, and Gallner puts in a very charismatic lead performance. Dinner in America will hardly change your life, but as a calling card for Rehmeier and his young cast, it’s a likely sign of great things to come.

Dinner in America is now available on digital platforms.

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