Melvin Goes to Dinner Bob Odenkirk

The directorial debut of Mr. Show co-creator Bob Odenkirk, Melvin Goes to Dinner is a film adaptation of the play Phylo-Giants! by Michael Blieden, who also stars as Melvin. The action surrounds a coincidental dinner party that brings together Melvin, his old friend Joey (Matt Price) and two women Melvin has never met, Sarah (Stephanie Courtney) and Alex (Annabelle Gurwitch), where they discuss dysfunctional relationships and their burgeoning neuroses as they get older. It's part My Dinner With Andre and part group therapy presided over by a drunk waitress. As chatty films go, Melvin does a fine job; it expands on the note-for-note adaptation of the play by filming various vignettes to accompany the table-talk, where guest stars (Jack Black, Melora Walters, David Cross, Maury Tierney) flesh out the original cast. Keeping the play's original five-some together pays off in their deep understanding of their characters and their ease with the material, which is easily heard in a director/cast commentary on this DVD. (The director and production crew commentary is far less necessary.) But for Mr. Show fans seeking Odenkirk's deadpan satire, the faux-festival featurette on Frank's International Film Festival (where the only attendee is Frank and the only film screened is Melvin) is where it's gone. Melvin Goes To Dinner is a distracting, occasionally compelling and funny drama about the crises of aging, dating and remaining adult children, certainly turf that's been well-trodden, but is again effectively so here. Plus: scenes from the play, shooting script. (Microfilms)