In film, dinner scenes often provide a great opportunity to showcase family dynamics, interpersonal relationships, and even reveal plot twists. However, sometimes these scenes can turn out to be more awkward than entertaining.
We hereby cordially invite you to join us as we chew over some of the most uncomfortable cinematic dinners ever.
Annie Hall (1977)
A classic scene from a classic comedy: Alvy Singer (Woody Allen) spends Easter with girlfriend Annie’s (Diane Keaton) wealthy white-bread family. His joke about being in therapy falls completely flat and he’s sure that her grandmother is a “classic Jew hater,” and that she’s picturing him decked out like an Orthodox rabbi.
Alvy turns to address the audience, contrasting the polite, genteel Halls with a typical dinner with his own noisy clan. Upping the awkwardness, Alvy is treated to a bizarre after-dinner confession from her brother Duane (Christopher Walken, in an early, and unforgettable, cameo).
What About Bob? (1991)
Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, an irritating patient who follows his unwilling psychotherapist Dr. Leo Marvin (Dreyfuss) on vacation. Leave it to Murray to take this dinner scene over the edge.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Normally, we love Indian food, but clearly cults that specialize in ripping people’s hearts out go for something a little more … unusual at meal time. This far-out fare easily wins the title of “Worst Movie Menu Ever.”
While an oblivious Indy (Harrison Ford) chats about the local folklore, Willie Scott (Kate Capshaw) is faced with these horrific appetizers: Baby snakes! Giant beetles! Eyeball soup! By the time the monkey brains are served, we’re ready to pass out in horror along with poor Willie. This clip is dubbed in French but the “ick” translates perfectly.
Pretty Woman (1990)
Working girl Vivian (Julia Roberts) is in over her head in this classy restaurant. Which fork do you use? How do you handle snails? (Careful, they’re slippery little suckers.) And what’s wrong with bringing your own ketchup?
Mr. Baseball (1992)
Athlete Tom Selleck is horrified by his Japanese hosts’ soup-slurping in this comedy, until he’s informed it’s the polite way to eat your noodles. Too bad his enthusiastic attempt to copy them is way, way over the top. Which reminds us of another fish-out-of-water story (literally), ‘Splash,’ where mermaid Daryl Hannah demonstrates how they eat lobster where she comes from. “She’s really hungry,” Tom Hanks explains to their horrified fellow diners in the movie’s trailer.
The House of Yes (1997)
When wealthy Marty (Josh Hamilton) brings his new girlfriend Lesly (Tori Spelling) home to meet the family, his too-close-for-comfort twin sis Jackie (a never-better Parker Posey) goes on the attack. Poor Lesly — who doesn’t know that Liebfraumilch is wine or that it’s German, not French — seems almost too sweet to realize she’s being insulted, but Jackie keeps it up until her bitchy point is crystal clear.
Object lesson on why you shouldn’t let teens drink and dine: Lovestruck Max (Jason Schwartzman) unwisely swigs a whiskey and soda and badgers his teacher’s (Olivia Williams) date (Luke Wilson) until she tells him point-blank, “You’re being rude.” “No, I’m not,” he insists, and then declares that he’s in love with her. Bill Murray says nothing, but his pained expression is textbook for “awkward silence.”
American Beauty (1999)
Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) delivers one of the most quotable lines of all time from this Best Picture Oscar winner: “Janie, today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go f–k himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost $60,000. Pass the asparagus.”
Meet the Parents (2000)
It’s the mother — or rather, the father — of all in-law nightmares: Having your first meeting with the parents of the girl you want to marry go disastrously wrong. How wrong? Oh, you know the exchange where Greg (Ben Stiller) boasts about milking a cat: “I had no idea you could milk a cat,” says a stunned Blythe Danner. “Oh, you can milk anything with nipples,” Greg says, to which Robert De Niro coolly replies, “I’ve got nipples, Greg. Could you milk me?” Everything just gets much, much worse from there.
Brains again? We just had them for lunch. Okay, seriously, is this the most disturbing dinner ever dreamed up? Cannibal connoisseur Hannibal Lecter displays his morbid culinary taste by feeding poor agent Paul (Ray Liotta) pieces of his own brain, sautéed. Pardon us if we don’t ask for seconds!
The Celebration (1998)
Awkward movie dinners don’t get any more painful than this Danish film. At his father’s lavish 60th birthday party, a son’s toast includes a shocking accusation of rape and incest.
Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
Grandpa (Alan Arkin) complains about having chicken yet again and mom Sheryl (Toni Collette) decides that Frank’s (Steve Carell) suicide attempt is an appropriate conversation to have in front of daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin). Why, what do you talk about over supper?
Alright, this is actually a breakfast, but it deserves being a bonus mention. Spud has soiled himself in his sleep and has to smuggle the evidence out of the apartment before anyone notices. Do you want some breakfast, Spud?