Film / The Dinner Game

Every Wednesday, French editor Pierre Brochand and some of his friends organize a very special dinner: a "dîner de cons" (Literally: "Dinner of idiots"), where whoever brings the dumbest guest wins.

Desperate to find a suitable candidate for the week, Brochand invites a friend's recommendation: François Pignon, a taxman who build models out of matchsticks and seems like "a real winner". Unfortunately, Brochand hadn't exactly counted on the fact that on the evening of the dinner, he'd have thrown his back playing golf, his wife would have left him and he'd be stuck at home, alone with Pignon...

A 1998 French comedy by Francis Veber, Le dîner de cons (The Dinner Game) was a financial and critical success in France and in the United Kingdom. Based on Veber's long-running play of the same name, the movie won Best Scenario, Best Actor and Best 2nd Actor at the Césars Awards. It remains a cult movie in France and one of the late Jacques Villeret's most beloved roles.

It was remade in America as Dinner for Schmucks.


  • An Aesop: Don't brush off people as 'dumb'.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: Pignon calls Leblanc as a Belgian film producer to get informations on Brochand's wife. He ends up hanging up without any information on the wife - but he sure is going to get the movie rights for cheap.
  • Black Comedy: Only lightly.
  • Country Matters: The literal translation of "diner de cons" is, well, let's say it's something slightly ruder than "schmuck". The French word con is now (almost) only used to mean an idiot/moron, but its mainly-forgotten actual meaning is much more offensive in English. (Of course, the actual meaning of "schmuck" is the male equivalent, so the translated title is perfectly appropriate).
  • *Crack!* "Oh, My Back!": Brochand hurts his back playing golf, and spends most of the film nursing his back injury. Said injury is what prevents him from taking Pignon to the dinner in the first place.
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation: Although there's not really a way to make the joke work in English; Sasseur is a perfectly plausible name. "Hissister"... not so much.
  • The Ditz: Pignon
  • Driven to Suicide: Marlene threatens to commit suicide if Pignon hangs up the phone.
  • Dumb Is Good: Pignon is a well-intentioned idiot with a sometimes heartwarming compassion for people he's barely met, Brochand is a smug intellectual snob who mistreats his closest friends.
  • False Reassurance: When Brochand tells a friend on the phone that Pignon "looks like a real winner" ("Il a une belle tête de vainqueur"). Pignon sees it as proof that he's going to get a book deal. Brochand knows his friends thinks about the dinner.
    • This phrase has undergone Memetic Mutation in France, where it's now used for saying someone looks dumb/uneducated/redneck/etc.
  • Here We Go Again: After the moral of the story and Pignon managing to fix everything in the span of several minutes, he manages to piss off Brochand's wife again by accidentally implying Brochand was feeding him lines.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: The reason why the music for Cheval's arrival is the theme from Jaws
  • Jerk Ass: Pierre Brochand, all the way
  • The Klutz: François Pignon.
  • Lethal Chef: Brochand, when he tries to turn his expensive wine into lower quality claret. Amusingly, he actually makes it better, before making it worse
  • Lethally Stupid: Pignon may be well-intentionned, all he does until the end is making Brochand's life worse and worse.
  • Love Triangle: Brochand stole Leblanc's wife. Pignon's wife was stolen by one of his colleagues.
  • Mistaken Identity: Pignon mistakes Brochand's wife for Marlene Sasseur.
  • Nice Guy: Pignon.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Pignon is at times shown to be not quite as stupid as Brochand thinks he is - not that that's saying much. And at other times he manages to be much more so...
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Pignon's Belgian accent, when Just asks him a question he doesn't expect.
  • Prank Dinner: Type 3
  • Punny Name: Juste Leblanc.
    • Also, Marlene Sasseur
  • The Remake: Dinner for Schmucks
  • Too Dumb to Live: Pignon, although it's not so much that he's dumb as easily distracted.
  • Tough Room: Brochand's reaction to Cheval's jokes when he thinks his wife is at Meneaux's.
  • Truth in Television: Veber wrote the play when he heard about dinners of the kind being actually organized by Parisian snobs.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Brochand, Leblanc and Le Guerec
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: main character Brochand takes part in the dinners, stole his best friend's wife, cheated on her for two years, and now refuses to acknowledge his mistress' existence. This is lampshaded in the end by Brochand, who, while trying to commit suicide, moans about how everyone hates him and that even an idiot like Pignon will hate "meanie Brochand".
  • Unwanted Assistance: Brochand thinks this of Pignon, after he's managed to fall on him.
  • Who's on First?:
    • Actually a plot point, when Pignon thinks Marlene is Brochand's sister because her name is Sasseur ("His sister").
    • And later, when he's told Leblanc's name is "Juste Leblanc"; "He doesn't have a first name?"
      "Votre nom à vous c'est François, c'est juste? Eh bien, lui, c'est pareil, c'est Juste."
      Badly translated (juste in French can mean both right and only) ''"Your name, it's François, it's right? Well, him, that's the same, it's Right".
  • With Friends Like These...:
    • Brochand is Leblanc's friend, but he steals his wife.
    • Pignon to Brochand, at least in the first part of the movie, when he tries to help him and makes everything worse.