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[Fantasia] ‘Dinner in America’ review: Punk as f--k

This ain’t SLC.

Dinner in  America will remind many of the grunge infused coming of age movies of the early 1990s. A punk rocker named Simon (Kyle Gallner) meets a girl named Patty (Emily Skeggs). After the two meet, a relationship builds that tests the limits of credibility in a very funny and incredibly watchable movie. The movie made its Quebec premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival.

If the film does not sound original that is because it is not. But lack of originality is not a deal breaker – especially in a genre that needs to hit its familiar beats. And make no mistake, Dinner in America checks off all the boxes. What helps it stand out are the amazing performances. Simon can very easily be a caricature. He is a too cool for school bad boy who constantly knows the most bad ass thing to say. 

The character works thanks to Gallner. Simon is borderline stereotypical but Gallner infuses a charisma that makes him likable. This goes beyond the attraction to rule breakers. Gallner brings a genuine charm to Simon that makes him endearing. Skeggs is also fantastic as Patty. The character does suffer from a version of nerdy girl takes off glasses and is really hot syndrome, however. Still, the chemistry with Simon makes up for the rapid change in the character.

Dinner in America has a great soundtrack. Electro pop marks the end of scenes and always serve as a great exclamation point. The same beat is used throughout the entire movie and works each time. What is most impressive about the music is it enhances the emotion of the moment. Scenes that were already funny or carried a sense of drama are given additional weight.  

[Fantasia] 'Dinner in America' review: Punk as fuck

If the movie falters anywhere, it is in its pacing. The actual story moves along nicely, it just does not always flow well. The relationship between the two leads is not surprising, but it does feel rushed. Patty’s transformation is also a stretch. Of course, in this type of movie it also makes complete sense. That being said, it would have been nice to see a more realistic development. 

Dinner in America is a throwback coming of age movie. The story does not go out of its way to be something wholly new. This will not affect anyone’s enjoyment of the film, however. The charm likes in the growing up aspects that anyone can relate to. The great acting and characters guarantee a heartwarming story that everyone will enjoy. 

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