This sweet and sour coming-of-age comedy smashed into Sundance with anarchy on its mind and a kickass soundtrack on its turntable. The bad boy-meets-good girl setup has been fodder for cinema for aeons, so it was about time someone took a chainsaw to the status quo.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2020
Adam Rehmeier’s rebel yell of a movie is as if Valley Girl was accidentally shunted into a teleportation machine alongside Sid & Nancy and the whole soupy stew beamed into the 90s. Funny and fucked up like some speed-snorting comic on an all-time bender, there’s a hypnotic lure in watching two worlds slowly inch towards an inevitable beautiful collision.
Our two loveable misfits here are Simon (Kyle Gallner), an obnoxious anarchist musician whose hobbies include pyromania and drug-dealing, and Patty (Emily Skeggs), an awkward pet store employee and the target of bullies. Simon is on the run for past indiscretions and with a police reward at $5,000, tensions are mounting. Hiding out from the cops, he runs into Patty, a simple geek whose one emotional lifeline is punk rock. Eventually these two outcasts will learn more about each other and their families, and in the banality of suburbia, they may just end up saving each other from the hand life has dealt them.
Both leads deliver star-making performances in showy roles. They’re ably supported by a fun mix of fan faves peppered throughout, from horny MILF Lea Thompson to stoned squares Pat Healy and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Accompanied by an electro-thrash score and cool widescreen lensing, this warped comedy will delight those who like their laughs with a healthy side of teen alienation and suburban neurosis. — Ant Timpson
About the Filmmaker
Adam Rehmeier spent a decade working in Hollywood as a cinematographer, editor and documentarian, before making his debut as a director with The Bunny Game (2011). Dinner in America is his fourth feature film. Selected filmography: H.P. Lovecraft: Two Left Arms (2013), Jonas (2013).