Sony // 1995 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // January 29th, 2003
"I told him it was Happy Hour. Why waste the food?'' -- Luke (Courtney B. Vance), The Last Supper
Iowa. It's one of America's heartland states. It houses the city Des Moines, lots and lots of corn, and five graduate students with murder on their mind. Every Sunday evening leftist youngsters Jude (Cameron Diaz, There's Sweetest Thing), Pete (Ron Eldard, Deep Impact), Paulie (Annabeth Gish, Mystic Pizza), Marc (Jonathan Penner, Wedding Bell Blues) and Luke (Courtney B. Vance, The Last Supper) meet for supper to have scintillating political conversations with sumptuously good food. When Pete gets a ride in with redneck truck driver Zac (Bill Paxton, Twister), the five friends invite Zac to stay for dinner. After Zac dazzles his hosts with his political theories (the holocaust never happened, Hitler had the right idea, et cetera), he grabs Pete and breaks his arm to show him what happens when you mess with patriotic zealots. In the heat of the moment Marc stabs Zac with a kitchen knife and kills him. Suddenly, this gives the five friends a devilish idea: invite over conservative pundits with differing viewpoints for dinner, then poison them so they're permanently "out of society." Soon the hosts are knocking off guests left and right, from a male chauvinist (Mark Harmon, Summer School) to a homophobic priest (Charles Durning, Tootsie) and seemingly everyone else in between. But when the self-righteous liberals invite over a Rush Limbaugh-like TV personality (Ron Perlman, Blade II), they find out that they've bitten off more than they can chew.
Some people love the idea of freedom of speech, just not for anyone other than themselves. The Last Supper is a movie that takes a fresh and probing eye at the idea of being able to say what you want, then being buried face up in a tomato garden because of it. In the vein of other black comedies like Harold and Maude and The War of the Roses, The Last Supper finds laughs in the unlikeliest of places. I'm a sucker for a well made dark comedy, and while The Last Supper isn't the best of the lot (I truly believe that belongs to Peter Berg's very funny Very Bad Things), there are plenty of solid laughs to be found in the story. Scathingly written by Dan Rosen (The Curve) and directed with a sure hand by Stacy Title (and co-executive produced by her husband/star Penner), the film is filled with good-to-great performances by the lead cast (Eldard and Vance are especially good) and a parade of goofy cameo appearances. While Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), Mark Harmon, and Nora Dunn (Saturday Night Live) are all funny, it's the hulking Ron Perlman who practically steals the show with his egotistic attitude and cigar chomping demeanor. The most interesting thing about the film is that, contrary to popular belief (and by popular, I mean the 38 people who've seen the film), the movie doesn't really side with any one group -- the deeper moral is that everyone has a right to say what's on their mind without worrying about getting a knife dug into their back. I think that's a moral we can all take away. If you're only into fuzzy, warm comedies like Patch Adams, please do yourself a favor and skip this movie. However, if you like your chuckles with a little more kick, The Last Supper may be your cup of soup.
The Last Supper is presented in an attractive looking 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Though I'm still a little baffled by Columbia's selection process on what gets a widescreen transfer and what gets a full frame one (cheapie Pamela Anderson movies but not Toy Soldiers?), I was happy to see this film presented in its original aspect ratio. The image is clear of any major imperfections or impurities, save for a small amount of softness and grain in the image (possibly due to the film's low budget nature more than the transfer itself). The colors are all bright and clear and the black levels dark and even, making this a solid effort by Columbia TriStar. The soundtrack is presented in a fine Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix in English. Since The Last Supper is a dialogue driven comedy, there wasn't a big need for a hefty 5.1 overhaul. Aside of some ominous thunderclaps, the bulk of the soundstage is focused in the front speakers only. All aspects of the mix are free and clear of any excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are subtitles in English, French, Spanish, and Japanese.
It seems that with its minor cult status The Last Supper would have been a contender for a few extra features. Alas, all that's been included on this disc are theatrical trailers for the movies As Good As It Gets and Charlie's Angels, with the trailer for The Last Supper conspicuously absent.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailers