Critics' Corner
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Desson Howe - Weekend section, "Occasional dark chuckles, but stumbles."

Rita Kempley - Style section, "It's all empty calories--bring your own Maalox."


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'The Last Supper'

Set somewhere in Iowa, the film focuses on a houseful of liberal grad students who unexpectedly kill a bigot, find they like the idea and decide to make a habit of it. Each week, one of the housemates invites a conservative over for a lavish dinner and a lively conversation. If they can't alter the guest's views, they serve him an arsenic-laced dessert wine. Then they feign surprise as the antiabortion activist, homophobe, real estate developer, misogynist or whatever dies at the table. Finally, they bury the corpse under a tomato plant in the garden. -- Rita Kempley Rated R


Director: Stacy Title
Cast: Jason Alexander; Cameron Diaz; Nora Dunn; Charles Durning; Ron-Eldard; Annabeth Gish; Mark Harmon; Bill Paxton; Jonathan Penner; Ron Perlman; Courtney B. Vance
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Filmographies: Bill Paxton ; Jason Alexander ;
Charles Durning






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'The Last Supper'

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 26, 1996

Ultimately, this black comedy doesn't achieve the delicate balance of macabre humor and satirical import it's struggling for. But it has its occasional dark chuckles.

A group of liberal grad students—stuck in politically right-leaning Iowa—invite a truck-driving good Samaritan (an inspired Bill Paxton) over to dinner. The guest, it turns out, is an antisemitic psychotic who threatens one of them—a Jewish student—with a knife.

After a struggle, the Jewish student (Ron Eldard) stabs him. Petrified that their story won't be believed, the five housemates (including Annabeth Gish, Cameron Diaz, Jonathan Penner and Courtney B. Vance) decide to ditch the victim's truck, bury him in the backyard and plant tomatoes over his grave. It hits the more zealous in the group (particularly Vance) that they can "do something" about this world of bigots, hypocrites and conservatives.

Before you can say "Arsenic and Old Lace" the students set up a deadly revolving door policy at their group house: They invite their favorite enemy types (book burners, anti-environmentalists, gay-haters) to dinner, poison them and add them to the growing graveyard out back.

But as the body count gets higher, and the housemates begin to question their high-and-mighty purposes, the movie stumbles under its sophomoric moral weight.

The Last Supper (R): Contains profanity, sexual situations and knife stabbings.

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'The Last Supper'

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 27, 1996

"The Last Supper," an inhospitable comedy about a series of poisonous political dinner parties, takes its story but not its cues from the classic charmer "Arsenic and Old Lace." Written by Dan Rosen and directed by Stacy Title, this sour, repetitive fare fails to feed our hunger for either laughter or enlightenment. It's all empty calories and reactionary chic.

Set somewhere in Iowa, the film focuses on a houseful of liberal grad students who unexpectedly kill a bigot, find they like the idea and decide to make a habit of it. Each week, one of the housemates invites a conservative over for a lavish dinner and a lively conversation. If the kneejerks can't alter the guest's views, they serve him an arsenic-laced dessert wine. Then they feign surprise as the antiabortion activist, homophobe, real estate developer, misogynist or whatever gags to death at the table. Finally, they bury the corpse under a tomato plant in the garden. The drill seldom varies.

In time, they begin to reconsider their actions, even think of giving up the weekly dinners, but agree to serve one final feast to a popular right-wing talk show host (Ron Perlman). Far from the beast they expected, the gabmeister is a thoughtful sort who makes them see the error of their ways.

Unfortunately, the grad students are not as likable as the loony spinsters of "Arsenic and Old Lace," nor do they share the same moral ground. Those early Kevorkianites dispatched only elderly gentlemen, thus sparing them from loneliness. The students (Annabeth Gish, Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, Jonathan Penner, Courtney B. Vance) aren't kind or crazy, they're hateful and intolerant. And so is this glib, morally muddy, overly schematic film. Bring your own Maalox.

The Last Supper is rated R for language, sexuality and violence.

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