Tag Archives: Pat Healy

Delicious and Nutritious

Dinner in America

by Hope Madden

It’s not often you watch a film about a fire starting, drug dealing, lying man on the run from police and his romance with a woman with special needs and think, this is delightful.

But it is. Dinner in America is a delight.

Writer/director Adam Rehmeier delivers an unexpected comedy, sometimes dark, sometimes broad, but never aimless. Simon (Kyle Gallner, remarkable) is a punk rocker hiding from the cops. Patty (Emily Skeggs) is a 20-year-old punk rock fan who lives at home and isn’t allowed to run appliances when she’s alone.

Their stories collide, but by that time Rehmeier and his cast have crafted memorable, believable characters with their own fascinating worlds. Where they go together becomes a little unnerving at times, but Dinner in America surprises with warmth as often as it does with profanity-laced edginess.

Rehmeier’s film calls to mind other misfit romances — Buffalo 66, Eagle v Shark — but sidesteps cliché at every turn. More importantly, or at least delightfully, it embraces the punk rock ethos rather than seeing a coming-of-age opportunity to grow out of it.

Gallner’s magnetic. Whether stalking through suburbia or surrendering to love, he delivers buzzing vitality and surprising depth. Skeggs offers a brilliantly unselfconscious counterpoint. Her awkward, endearing performance is an absolute blessing.

A top-to-bottom impressive ensemble including Pat Healy, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Lea Thompson buoy the central performances. Rehmeier’s sharp yet somehow tender script doesn’t hurt, offering startling opportunities for castmates to shine.

By the time the film digs into its musical numbers, you’re already hooked. In a nice turn of events, the songs are absolutely worth the wait.

Rarely does a film feel as genuinely subversive and darling as Dinner in America, the punk rock rom-com you never knew you needed.


We Need to Do Something

by Hope Madden

We’ve all felt a little trapped lately. But the pandemic was completely different depending on your situation. Were you trapped and utterly alone, like Bo Burnham? Because that seemed sad and reflective, funny and inspirational and wildly successful. (See Inside if you haven’t.)

Or were you trapped with your family?

We Need to Do Something is a parable about being stuck for a long time with the people you  know best and were probably sick of in the first place. The world outside your doors offers a high possibility of death, but the world inside might be even worse.

Parable is a strong word. We Need to Do Something is a nightmare.

Mel (Sierra McCormick, The Vast of Night) made it home from her friend’s house just in time to miss the tornado. Her mom (Vinessa Shaw) ushers everyone —Mel, her little brother Bobby (John James Cronin) and their dad (Pat Healy) — into the safest room in the house, the bathroom. Here they will wait out the storm.

The storm damages the house, and they are pinned in. Days go by. Why hasn’t anyone come for them? Why is their dad such a dick? What are those noises outside the door?

Director Sean King O’Grady, working from the screenplay Max Booth III adapted from his own novella, mixes claustrophobic dread and adolescent angst with few enough contrivances that he never loses your interest.

Hints dropped early in the story come to hideous life later on (as ugly secrets sometimes do at things like family holidays and vacations or when you’re stuck for a long time in the bathroom). And though the “theater of the mind” component, piquing interest in what exactly lay outside that door, could be stronger, the performances are enough to keep your attention.

Healy, in particular, delivers a characteristically unpleasant performances, feeling very much like a trapped rat.

The hallucinogenic subplot about guilt and trauma and adolescent experimentation with pink goth suggests that the more time you spend with your parents, the more overwhelmed you’ll be by nameless shame and guilt. That feels right.

There’s no real story here. The whole film is essentially Act 2: no catalyst, no resolution. That doesn’t make for a deeply satisfying story, but it does feel a lot like the pandemic.