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The Dinner Game (Le Dīner de cons) (1999)



Average Rating: 7.2/10
Critic Reviews: 13
Fresh: 11 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 19,495

My Rating

Movie Info

Francis Veber wrote and directed this film adaptation (with animated opening credits) of his own play, Le diner de cons, about a competition among a group of friends to see who can find the stupidest person to bring to dinner (as indicated by the original French title, since "con" means someone who's a total dumbbell). The dinners are held each Wednesday night, and French publisher Pierre Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) has found a world class nincompoop -- Finance Ministry accountant Francois


Drama, Art House & International, Comedy

Francis Veber

Apr 25, 2000

Lions Gate Films Inc.

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All Critics (46) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (33) | Rotten (12) | DVD (7)

Weaves a simple premise into comedy gold.

January 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite the stagey set-up (it was originally conceived as a play and it shows), the film manages to maintain its humor and energy until the final scene in which Veber suddenly casts aside his delightful meanspiritedness and gets soft-hearted and preachy.

January 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Newsweek
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some realist nuances in the characters' behavior become more intriguing than the belabored humor.

January 14, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A sip of sparkling champagne in a moviegoing summer of mostly cheap red wine for teenage winos.

April 27, 2007 Full Review Source: New York Observer
New York Observer
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The leads fill out their archetypes comfortably, the timing's well pitched, and the narrative moves busily enough. Cinematically, though, there's little of interest.

February 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

On its own terms, it's an idiot's delight.

February 21, 2004 Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Scared of sophisticated French cinema? This coarse comedy will restore your confidence.

January 14, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Its very tautness and on-the-money performances from the odd-coupled Jacques Villeret and Thierry Lhermitte help make this a highly amusing and old-fashioned big-screen entertainment.

January 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

If you don't like this type of movie to begin with (I don't), you won't be converted this time around.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Easily the funniest and most charming film that has been or will be released in 1999 ... period.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat | Comment (1)
Film Threat

An idiot is exactly what you'll be if you don't check out The Dinner Game.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Villeret, a fixture in French films for two decades, is short, squat, a little bug-eyed and able to completely twist the not-so-good intentions of his host.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

Farce is usually equated with slapstick, but here the comedy is distinctly one of wits, slowly building momentum to a satisfying finish.

December 5, 2004 Full Review Source:

A sharp elbow in the throat of mean-spiritedness.

July 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

It may be silly, but it's never stupid.

April 5, 2003 Full Review Source: Killer Movie Reviews
Killer Movie Reviews

Veber directs with the involving, blurry speed of a shuffled deck of cards, which is about as long as The Dinner Game lingers on screen and in the memory.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner

Veber builds and sustains an enjoyably frantic pace, his physical gags are clever and imaginative, and it's always fun to watch an arrogant smartie get his comeuppance at the hands of the lovable fool.

April 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Veber's film offers all the undemanding, solidly old-fashioned pleasures of a traditionally well-crafted French farce.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Sight and Sound
Sight and Sound

Director Francis Veber has a perfect sense of comic timing which is the heart and soul of farce.

March 3, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for The Dinner Game (Le Dīner de cons)

A smart idea for a film is plagued by a poorly written script that is dull, uninteresting. Le Diner de cons could have been a great film, and it might have looked good on paper, but the on-screen result is that of a film that is unfocused, with poor attempt at humor, and yes, I do get French humor, but this film just failed to make me laugh. I expected something really funny with the film, and considering the idea for the film, you'd think it would be one hilarious film. Unfortunately it wasn't. This film as a whole was just long and boring with nothing interesting going on-screen. I think it's a great shame because this film could have been great. Unfortunately it suffers from an underdeveloped script that fails to be very funny. The cast try to save this film from failing, but it does anyway. Director Francis Veber would later redeem himself with The Closet, a much funnier film with a far better cast. This film just doesn't have the comedic elements that make up a good comedy. Most of the comedy falls flat. The films script could have been rewritten to develop better jokes. If you want a good French comedy watch some Louis de funes films and OSS117 instead. Avoid this one; this film simply isn't worth watching. Overall it's a shame that the filmmakers couldn't have made a better film out of this, and the result is a train wreck that just fails on so many levels. Spend your time watching something else, you'll be glad you did.
July 7, 2012
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Le Dīner de Cons is clever, well written and mildly amusing but not hilarious. The script is very sharp and the delivery is brilliant when it comes to the late great Jacques Villeret and Daniel Prévost but ultimately the whole film is let down by the bland performances and awkward attempts at humour from both Thierry Lhermitte and Francis Huster . Good but not great.
January 21, 2011

Super Reviewer

Wonderfully simple, but emotionally engaging comedy. The film takes its audience on a wonderful journey as we start feeling very sorry for Villeret. The film is very cruel towards him at first. He's just a sweet, naive man looking for some acceptance. He soon turns into the guest from hell, as his lack of intelligence does turn into annoyance. Finally, his acts bring justice upon those that would make fun of him. It's a feel good comedy, that gradually builds an unexpected friendship. It's also nice to see the characters in on the joke as well. Too often comedies have their own characters ignore the hilarity around them. The dialogue is quick and witty and the film does what it can in its space and time. About to be remade with Paull Rudd and Steve Carrell, the trailer for that promises to expand on the events, but will the heart and humor remain intact? This is a mini French gem.
July 29, 2010

Super Reviewer

Minor French farce is a mistitled little ditty about a about a competition amongst a group of businessmen to see who can find the stupidest person to bring to dinner. The problem is that they never attend said dinner party, which undoubtedly would have been ripe for comedy. Instead the "dinner game" is more of an excuse to bring two unlikely acquaintances together in the same room for 78 minutes. Of course nothing goes right in this comedy of errors. Actor Jacques Villeret is amusing as Franēois Pignon, the nincompoop in question. His nuanced acting brings out a personality that is more sweet and sensitive than idiotic. That's unexpected. Given the setting of the film, however, perhaps a more appropriate title would have been, The Time I Injured My Back and Had to Spend the Day at Home With an Idiot, but that doesn't quite have the same ring now does it?
June 1, 2010

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • The Dinner Game (Le diner de cons) (DE)
  • Diner De Cons, Le (The Dinner Game) (UK)
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