Francis Veber's The Dinner Game is the type film which can be affectionately called a 'disaster comedy'.
Said title is by no means a criticism of the film. No, the 'disaster' aspect of this comedy (and others such as The Pink Panther and Dumb and Dumber) is found within its head protagonist, and he/she's ability to come on like a force of nature, destroying everything in his/her wake, and do so with extremely humorous results.
The protagonist in this film is Francois Pignon (Jacques Villeret), a tax accountant who has been invited to a dinner party by rich publisher Pierre Brochart (Thierry Lhermitte). Francois believes that Pierre and his associates are interested in his matchstick models of famous French landmarks.
But what he doesn't know is that Pierre and company have created a mean spirited contest to find who can bring the biggest idiot to dinner, and that he is Pierre's best idiot yet. Unfortunately, it does not take long for Francois to create havoc, and for Pierre to regret his decision whilst losing his sanity.
Based on Francis Veber's own stage play, the acclaimed French director and playwright does a splendid job adapting The Dinner Game from stage to screen. The screenplay is witty, smart, and very funny, pilling on the laughs thick and fast with every passing moment. (It starts a little slow, but comes into its own).
Known for his odd couple pairings, Veber strikes gold with the tandem of Lhermitte and Villeret.
Villeret (who played the part of Pignon in various stage productions), gives a great comedic performance, playing the idiot in a straight forward manner, never once giving in to the temptation to go over the top, or revel in his characters idiocy. Lhermitte excels as the straight man to Villeret's clown, and does the rich scumbag shtick very well.
At 80 min, this is a clever, breezy comedy which - when on a roll - does not disappoint.