Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 32 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Language, and for some Sexuality and Violence
Directed by: Stacy Title
Written by: Dan Rosen
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, Annabeth Gish, Jonathan Penner, Courtney B. Vance, Bill Paxton, Nora Dunn, Ron Perlman, Charles Durning, Mark Harmon & Jason Alexander
Have you ever thought about what life might be like without your worst enemy, whether they be racists, bigots, sexists, xenophobes, or any other form of a generally unpleasant person. We’ve all had those passing thoughts from time to time, but 99% have the moral compass to prevent us from wiping that person off this world. 1996’s indie dark comedy THE LAST SUPPER playfully teases the notion of getting rid of people who “don’t deserve to live” and whose death makes the world “a better place,” whilst also shining a satirical light on a group of liberals who decide to start murdering their enemies. LAST SUPPER is a ballsy comedy that still contains a shocking amount of relevance and conveys a powerful message, even if its one-joke premise nearly overstays its welcome.
Jude (Cameron Diaz), Pete (Ron Eldard), Paulie (Annabeth Gish), Marc (Jonathan Penner), and Luke (Courtney B. Vance) are a group of five liberal grad students who invite a guest to a fancy dinner every Sunday night. At this weekly feast, the group talks politics and current events with their chosen guest. On a particularly stormy night, their planned guest is nowhere to be found and Pete arrives with strange trucker Zack (Bill Paxton) in tow. Their dinner takes a dark turn when Zack is revealed to be a neo-Nazi. After a brief altercation, Marc plunges a knife into Zack’s back. The five friends quickly get over the traumatic event and decide to begin offing their political enemies in order to make the world a better place. Homophobes, rape apologists, and extreme conservatives soon find themselves wining and dying at the dinner table…all while a nosy Sheriff (Nora Dunn) grows increasingly suspicious of the group’s activities.
Though it was made over two decades ago, THE LAST SUPPER is surprisingly relevant and conveys a strong message that’s just as timely now as it was during the film’s limited release. On a surface level, some viewers might take the film as a skewering of hypocritical liberals and others might see it as a dark comedy about ridding the world of conservatives. However, the story’s real message seems to skewer both political parties in vicious ways and sends a nice wake-up call to remind viewers that we should all respect each other (regardless of our political beliefs and differences). Though that message might be entirely lost on certain folks, I thought it was a nice satirical pick-me-up in a time when this nation seems more divided than ever in toxic ways.
THE LAST SUPPER’s cast sports a lot of big faces (even though a few of them only show up in brief supporting roles). Out of the main cast, the most recognizable performer is Cameron Diaz. She plays the most sympathetic member of the liberal lunatics. Though I didn’t recognize the other main performers, they all pulled their weight as well. The two biggest standouts are Jonathan Penner as the stab-happy Marc and Courtney B. Vance as the crazy-from-the-start Luke. Ron Perlman makes a huge impression as conservative spokesman Norman Arbuthnot, a character who was inspired by Rush Limbaugh and seems remarkably more level-headed than his real-life inspiration. Bill Paxton is also fun as the short-lived neo-Nazi, while Jason Alexander briefly pops in as one of the victims and Charles Durning is hilarious as a hungry (extremely homophobic) priest.
As for flaws, THE LAST SUPPER falters in two areas. The first problem is the subplot involving Nora Dunn’s Sheriff character. Though her investigation does lead to entertaining revelations, it’s completely abandoned in an anticlimactic way. The second flaw arrives in this film functioning on one big joke. There are plenty of laughs to be had throughout, particularly in how the group begins its killings and then progressively lowers their standards for choosing victims. However, the film meanders a bit before really hitting home its main point/message during the stellar final 20 minutes. Seriously, I love the message of this film…even if it takes a while to arrive at its destination.
THE LAST SUPPER is likely to entertain viewers from both sides of the political fence, whilst also making a statement about how we need each other to survive. In a society that currently seems torn apart by hate and division over the dumbest reasons, THE LAST SUPPER serves as a nice little satire to remind viewers that being a decent human being and doing the best we can is what really counts in this world. So grab friends with different opinions, dig in on some great food, and watch this entertaining little dark comedy…preferably without killing each other at the end of the meal.