The Dinner Game (Dīner de Cons, Le) (1998)

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Released 19-Jun-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-French, U.S.
Trailer-Innocence, Shadow Of The Vampire, Amores Perres
Trailer-Children Of The Marshland, Romance
Trailer-Harry He Is Here To Help You, Paris Texas
Trailer-Betty Blue
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 76:40 (Case: 80)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Francis Veber
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Jacques Villeret
Thierry Lhermitte
Francis Huster
Daniel Prevost
Alexandra Vandernoot
Catherine Frot
Case DV-4
RPI $34.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Le Diner De Cons (The Dinner Game) is a French farce about a wealthy publisher, Pierre Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) and his dealings in one long night with the bumbling buffoon Francois played by Jacques Villeret.Brochant and his obnoxious, mean-spirited buddies hold a weekly dinner where they endeavour to outdo each other by inviting the biggest idiot that they can find to join them. The winner, in the ultimate act of one-upmanship has the bragging rights for the next week. The victims, of course aren't in on the joke and feel that they have been honoured with an invitation to such a prestigious occasion. Unfortunately for Brochant, on this occasion  he is having trouble finding a guest (or victim) for the evening, until a friend bumps into what he can only describe as a world champion idiot, a man who works for the tax ministry and spends his spare time building replicas of major engineering feats out of matchsticks - a hobby that he can talk about for hours at a time (and he even carries photos of his models with him). Brochant invites Francois to the dinner thinking that this is going to be his night, but a back complaint and trouble with his wife put a damper on the evening and threaten to ruin his chances of winning the dinner game. Suffice it to say that Francois also does his best to add further mayhem and completely ruin Brochant's life.

    How often have you seen a Hollywood movie that has been based on or remade from a classic French original? Think of The Assassin (La Femme Nikita), Trois Hommes et un Couffin (Three Men and a Baby) or the other farce comedies from the same director as The Dinner Game such as The Birdcage (La Cage aux Folles), and Three Fugitives (Les Fugitifs). All too often the remakes are not a patch on the originals, often losing much of the subtlety in the translation. The Dinner Game has not yet suffered the fate of a Hollywood remake and I could well imagine that much would be lost if it were attempted.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The dreaded Pan & Scan strikes again. From an original theatrical aspect of 2.35:1, we get a 1.33:1 Pan & Scan hatchet job. Very disappointing, and it does detract from the viewing experience when several scenes show only half the actors.

    Presented in an aspect of 1.33:1, it is obviously not 16x9 enhanced. Apart from my disappointment with the aspect ratio of the transfer, the actual image that we do get is superb. Sharpness and shadow level are exemplary throughout. There is no hint of any edge enhancement and blacks are a deep solid black.

    Colours are vibrant and beautifully saturated. The French take great pride in their fashion and clothing and these are displayed as vivid and brightly coloured throughout. The artwork in Brochant's apartment also displays a strong palette. Skin tones are natural. There is no hint of oversaturation or bleeding. This is a truly stunning image to view and would have been of near reference quality if the correct aspect ratio and 16x9 enhancement were presented.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted. The only video artefact I spotted was a small, almost trivial occurrence of aliasing on a coffee table at 8:34. Film artefacts were limited to a handful of small white spots that were barely noticeable.

    The subtitles will cause some controversy on this disc. There is only one set, those being English and they are only available on the French soundtrack side of this dual sided single layered disc. They are also burned into the image and can therefore not be turned off.

    As mentioned, this is a dual sided, single layered effort, with the English dubbed version on one side and the original French soundtrack on the other. Seems a strange way to do it. Why not have a dual layered disc with both soundtracks available and the video stored only once?

    NOTE: The labelling on the actual disc is incorrect. Side A is labelled as French Language with English Subtitles and Side B is labelled as English Dubbed. It is actually vice-versa.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    As previously mentioned, there are two soundtracks available on this disc,  the original French and an English dub, one on each side. Both are presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. I naturally watched the whole movie with the original French soundtrack and briefly sampled, and had a good laugh at, the English dub.

    Both soundtracks offer clear and concise dialogue (from what little French I can understand anyway). Being only Dolby 2.0, the dialogue does compete with many other sounds for attention, but this is primarily a dialogue-based comedy with little in the way of sound effects or music. Audio sync is not an issue with the original track and suffers from the usual problems in the dub. Speaking of the dub  - wouldn't it seem obvious to at least have the English speakers attempt a slight French accent. Having characters in Paris speaking with the twangiest of American accents is quite amusing and removes much of the credibility from the story.

    There is little music other than the introductory credits song used in the movie. It is almost exclusively dialogue-based.

    There was, of course, no surround or sub use.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Profiles

    The usual biographic details for the director, Francis Veber and actors Theirry Lhermitte and Jacques Villeret. Reasonably detailed and presented in a very easy-to-read typeface.

French Trailer

    Presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, this non 16x9 enhanced trailer runs for 1:33 minutes and has a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Interesting to see the difference between this trailer, made for the domestic French market and the US one. This is much like you would expect from a trailer for a comedy and features snips from the movie complete with dialogue.

US Trailer

    Presented in a mix of 1.33:1 and 2.35:1 letterbox, this non 16x9 enhanced trailer also runs for 1:33 minutes and has a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It's interesting to see how a foreign film is marketed in the US. This trailer has an American voice-over and the only snips of dialogue from the film are of the actors making grunts, laughs, or answering the phone with a brief greeting. At no stage would you guess from the preview that this was a foreign language film. Maybe they need to con the American public in order to get them to watch foreign films.

Madman Propaganda

    Trailers for eight of Madman's DVDs.  These are presented in a mixture of 1.66:1 and 1.33:1 and all have a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Trailers are present for Innocence, The Shadow of The Vampire, Amores Perros, The Children of the Marshland, Romance, Harry - He is here to help you, Paris Texas, and Betty Blue.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    A big difference here.

    The R1 disc cops a supposedly magnificent anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer but misses out on the English dub (interesting considering they are American accents). The R2 gets the anamorphic transfer, the original French soundtrack and the English dub, as well as English and French subtitles.

    I'd have to declare the R2 the winner, with silver going to R1 and our R4 in all its Pan & Scan glory bringing up the rear for bronze.

Summary

    People often only discover French cinema after one of their classics is remade into usually ordinary Hollywood flicks. Beat them to it this time and give this one a shot before it gets the treatment from Tinseltown. The Dinner Game is a decent comedy in an intelligent, understated kind of way. The performances are spot-on and the screenplay is sharp and humorous.

    The video quality, albeit in Pan & Scan is superb. The audio is average but serviceable.

    Merci...

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, July 12, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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Comments (Add)
Still Pan & Scan... - GraemeG