The Dinner Game

This seems to be my week for French comedies. Again it is on DVD, as it was released in 1998. Again it is directed by Francis Weber, so you can expect a great story, easily recognizable characters, funny plot devices, and probably someone named "Pignon." (For some reason, Weber uses that name in most of his movies...)

This is a laugh-out-loud farce about a group of arrogant young professional men who hold a contest once a week, in which they compete to see who can bring the dumbest, most boring, most idiotic yokel to dinner. Their objective is to humiliate the poor schmucks and enhance their own feelings of superiority.

The "Idiot of the Week" is a fellow who builds replicas of bridges, the Eiffel Tower, and other landmarks, out of toothpicks. He is an insufferable bore (not boor) and he is portrayed by Jacques Villeret, who has also played this character on stage. The man who discovers him is a successful publisher, portrayed by Thierry Lhermitte ("Le Divorce" and "The Closet") who seems to specialize in playing fairly unsympathetic rascals. His character is married to a woman who had originally been engaged to his best friend. The more we get to know this handsome scalawag, the less we like him. On the other hand, the more we know about the poor bozo who has been selected as the victim of this week's dinner game, the more we feel sympathy for him.

This is one of the most satisfying plots I have ever enjoyed. I re-watch my DVD on a regular basis and never fail to feel happy about the outrageous turns of fortune for all involved...and there is definitely someone to root for!

NOTE: Please, please, please do NOT confuse this with the lame American remake, "Dinner for Schmucks" that came out in 2010.