Early in Dinner in America, Simon (Kyle Gallner) has dinner with a Midwestern family before setting their lawn alight. Everything about those first 20 minutes suggest that this is a movie intent on exposing the poison buried in the heart of suburban life. And it is, but in a slyly sweet way, a way decidedly focused on celebrating the love born from those who reject normality.

Simon is a punk rock singer travelling through rural Michigan. His travel through these unmemorable towns is propelled by rage and sound tracked by expletives. He hurtles through space with frightening determination, venom seeping from his stare, all the time willing the world to challenge him. In comparison, Patty (Emily Skeggs), a quiet but passionate punk fan, collapses in on herself, shoulders tumbling forward and eyes downcast when the local track stars bully her. These two are set on a collision course, forcing the other to reckon with what is lost in refusing to connect with others.

Dinner in America feels a little lost in the moments when it peers in on Simon’s relationship with his bandmates. If the whole film is about digging up your strangest habits and building genuine connection through that, the quiet moments between Simon and Patty more astutely speak to this. Their initial interactions are framed as a back and forth, the camera flitting between them, but as their relationship builds they are placed together, situated side by side in the front seats of a pickup truck.

Balancing dark humour with earnestness and doing so while never sacrificing its message of artistic independence, Dinner in America is a sneakily warm and funny romantic comedy. While the director, Adam Rehmeier, occasionally embarks on tangents which don’t necessarily serve the film’s perspective on musical integrity, what he ends up creating is an unexpectedly romantic condemnation of Midwest mundanity.



CAST: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Brittany Sheets, Pat Healy, Griffin Gluck and Mary Lynn Rajskub

DIRECTOR: Adam Rehmeier

WRITER: Adam Rehmeier

SYNOPSIS: Simon is the lead singer of a punk rock band who meets Patty during his travels through American suburbs.