Directed by Bob Odenkirk (native of Naperville, IL, right around the corner from me) of HBO's Mr. Show (1995) and based off a play written by Michael Blieden, Melvin Goes to Dinner (2003) is a movie...well, as George Constanza from TV's Senfield might put it, about nothing. Really...nothing happens...four people come together for dinner and different topics of discussion arise, religion, marriage, infidelity, sex, ghosts, among other things. The movie forms around what is supposed to be spontaneous conversation, and has various flashbacks intertwined to help develop the characters. The film succeeded, but main problem I had was with the characters in that I just didn't like them very much. They really weren't people I'd be interested in knowing or spending time with, but I continued to watch, and even managed to enjoy myself. One thing I noticed which rang true to me was how easy it can be at times for people to relate really personal information about themselves with absolute strangers, while having difficulty doing the same with people they have closer relationships, like spouses or siblings.
There were some great cameos by David Cross (as a motivational speaker) and Jack Black, who really made me laugh as a lunatic in a hospital talking about how he was 'the Creatrix' and the jealous god knocked him off his pterodactyl and turned him into a nid (a human being). Maura Tierney and Laura Kightlinger also appear. I really thought the movie would have more humor than it did, as the conversation meandered from subject to subject. It was kinda odd when the supporting cast is more well known that the starring players with the exception of the attractive Annabelle Gurtwitch, who played the character of Sarah. She used to be on that television show 'Dinner & a Movie' as a co-host and has been in quite a few movies.
Special features include a featurette about how the makers of this film accepted an invitation to the exclusive Frank International Film Festival, only to learn that the festival was run by one guy named Frank, and their film was the only movie showcased, and pretty much the whole festival took place in this Frank's mother's house, with the filmmaker's having to share a funky room with Frank's brother. There are two different commentaries available, one with the writer and the cast, and another with people involved in the production and also a copy of the script available in a PDF format. There are also like ten trailers for various Sundance Channel releases. I really wish I could give this film 3 ½ stars rather than three, but the current system doesn't allow for that (foolish system)...