Film Review: My Dinner With Eric (dir by Eliza Roberts and Darryl Marshak)

One day, in Hollywood, actor Eric Roberts has dinner with Rico Simonini, who is both a fellow actor and a cardiologist to the stars.  They proceed to have a long and somewhat meandering conversation about …. well, just about everything.

Eric asks Rico how he balances being both an observant Catholic and, as a doctor, a man science.  Rico asks if Eric ever met Marlon Brando, which leads to an amusing story about the morning that Eric mistook Brando for being Jack Nicholson’s gardener.  They discuss how the movies have changed over the years, with Eric announcing that, with the exception of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, there are no more movie stars left.  Eric talks about how movies today are made quickly and cheaply and how the fact that we can now watch a movie anywhere has effectively ended the idea of movies being big events.  Rico talks about seeing Frank Sinatra being brought to the hospital for the final time.  They talk about their mutual love of Harry Dean Stanton and Burt Young.  Eric says that, before he became a star, Bruce Willis was the best bartender New York had ever seen.  Eric also talks about getting high with actor Sterling Hayden.

Oddly enough, the film skips around in time.  We seem some snippets of conversation that were apparently shot at a different dinner between the two men.  It’s during this second dinner that Eric is approached by a woman named Sandra who excitedly tells him that she loves his sister.  “Your sister blows my panties off!” she exclaims before walking away.  “Wow,” Rico says as an “OMG” thought balloon suddenly appears over Eric’s head.

The film sets itself up to make us believe that we’ll be eavesdropping on a casual, everyday conversation between the two men but, throughout the film, the men also acknowledge that they are being filmed.  Two women who interrupt the conversation to ask for an autograph also smile straight at the camera.  Are we watching a documentary or are we watching a fictionalized portrait of Eric and Rico’s friendship?  On the one hand, the film’s opening credits specifically credits Rico and Eric Roberts as co-writing the screenplay, which would seem to suggest that we’re watching a scripted conversation.  At the same time, Eric also gets a few details mixed up when he’s telling his stories.  For instance, he says that Jack Nicholson was Oscar-nominated for Terms of Endearment the same year that Eric was nominated for Runaway Train.  Actually, that year, Nicholson was nominated for Ironweed.  It’s not a huge mistake and, indeed, there’s actually something undeniably charming about the fact that Roberts has been doing this for so long that he occasionally has a difficult time keeping his dates straight.  But it’s the type of mistake that one makes while speaking off-the-top of one’s head as opposed to reciting lines from a script.  Are we watching a true conversation or are we watching a recreation of a conversation?  The film leaves it up to us to decide, a reminder that films can reflect reality while also being totally fictional.

When My Dinner With Eric started, the image was grainy and the hand-held camerawork was distracting.  However, as soon as Eric complains that most films made today look like they were shot on someone’s phone, the image suddenly becomes crisper, the camerawork settles down, and even the film’s soundtrack becomes significantly less muddy.  It’s as if, by calling out the poor visuals and sound quality of most low-budget films, Eric Roberts magically fixed this film.  When Eric complains about the service at the restaurant, we get a De Palma-style split screen.  When Eric talks about Rod Steiger, the film slips in a clip from On The Waterfront.  Later, the film finds time to feature a clip from Kubrick’s The Killing.  Even as we listen to the conversation between the two men, the directors make sure that we know that we’re watching a movie, once again tasking us with determining what is real and what is just being said for the cameras.

And yes, it’s all a bit self-indulgent and one could probably argue that this film is a vanity project for both Eric Roberts and Rico Simonini.  But I have to admit that, after a rough start, I actually grew to like this film.  Eric Roberts is a good conversationalist and, as you might expect from someone who has been working in the movies since the late 70s, he’s got a story for every occasion.  There’s an unexpected and earnest sincerity to Eric Roberts in this film and, even more importantly, an undeniable love of acting.  When the film starts, Eric seems awkward and a bit nervous.  But once he starts talking about his technique and the roles that he loved and the ones that he lost out on, he seems to come alive and, before our eyes, he transforms into the quirky performer who has appeared in everything from tough crime films to straight-to-video thrillers to Lifetime melodramas to micro-budget faith movies.  It’s interesting to watch and he and Rico seem to be having a good time talking to each other.  Though Rico may not be as a famous as his friend, he still manages to hold his own in their conversation.

Do I recommend this film?  If you’re a fan of Eric Roberts and if you have the patience necessary to stick with the film despite a somewhat rough beginning, then yes.  It’s currently on Tubi.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 11/7/22 — 11/13/22

I am a year older and on vacation until the end of next week.  It’s currently 42 degrees outside and, with a storm on the way, next week is expected to bring freezing temperatures.  At the same time, I am feeling peaceful and relaxed as we head towards the end of 2022.

Here’s what I watched and listened to this week.

Films I Watched:

  1. All Quiet On The Western Front (2022)
  2. The Automat (2022)
  3. Bitterbrush (2022)
  4. The Bodyguard From Beijing (1994)
  5. Final Justice: Rifftrax Edition (2017)
  6. Frankenstein Reborn (2005)
  7. Girl In the Picture (2022)
  8. Lady in a Corner (1989)
  9. Laserblast (1978)
  10. Man on Fire (2004)
  11. Montana Story (2022)
  12. My Dinner With Eric (2022)
  13. Policewoman Centerfold (1983)
  14. Project Skyquake (2022)
  15. Swimsuit (1989)
  16. Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (1990)
  17. Top Gun (1986)
  18. Top Gun Maverick (2022)
  19. White Elephant (2022)

Television Shows I Watched:

  1. Amazing Race
  2. Atlanta
  3. California Dreams
  4. City Guys
  5. Fantasy Island
  6. Ghosts
  7. Hell’s Kitchen
  8. Law & Order
  9. Love Boat
  10. Survivor

Music To Which I Listened:

  1. Adi Ulmansky
  2. Avril Lavigne
  3. Britney Spears
  4. Carrie Underwood
  5. The Chemical Brothers
  6. ELO
  7. Haim
  8. Katy Perry
  9. Kedr Livanskiy
  10. Kid Rock
  11. Lynard Skynard
  12. Moby
  13. Muse
  14. Rich White
  15. Selena Gomez
  16. Taylor Swift
  17. Yvonne Elliman

Live Tweets:

  1. The Bodyguard From Beijing 
  2. Man On Fire
  3. Laserblast
  4. Tales From The Darkside: The Movie


  1. John Wick 4

News From Last Week:

  1. Actor Kevin Conroy Dies At 66
  2. Guitarist Keith Levene Dies at 65
  3. Watermelon smasher and Marijuana Activist Gallagher dies at 76
  4. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Wow At The Box Office

Links From Last Week:

  1. Cinematic Medical Malpractice! Check In To “The Hospital!” So “Where Does It Hurt?” These 70’s Movies Have The Diagnosis!
  2. The World’s Common Tater’s Week in Books, Movies, and TV 11/11/22

Links From The Site:

  1. Leonard shared the trailer for John Wick 4!
  2. Jeff shared a music video from Sheena Easton!
  3. I shared music videos from Avril Lavigne and Adi Ulmansky!
  4. I reviewed Project Skyquake and Swimsuit!
  5. I wished everyone a happy election day and shared a statement from Jerry SpringerI also shared my week in television!
  6. I reviewed Hang Time, Fantasy Island, Love Boat, City Guys, One World, and California Dreams!
  7. Erin shared music videos from Shakira, Bill Gentry, Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees!
  8. Erin shared pictures of a fog-shrouded neighborhood!
  9. Erin shared Call Me A Cab, The Strange Trio, Legacy, Loveliest of Friends, Redhead, Detective Tales, and Paris Nights!

More From Us:

  1. At her photography site, Erin shared Overgrown, Swing in Black-and-White, The Backyard on a Foggy Morning, Foggy Morning, Foggy Morning 2, Foggy Morning 3, and Foggy Morning 4!
  2. For Reality TV Chat Blog, I reviewed the latest episodes of The Amazing Race and Survivor!
  3. At my music site, I shared songs from Carrie Underwood, Selena Gomez, Britney Spears, Moby, Rich White, ELO, and Adi Ulmansky!

Want to see what I did last week?  Click here!

Retro Television Reviews: Swimsuit (dir by Chris Thomson)

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Sundays, I will be reviewing the made-for-television movies that used to be a primetime mainstay.  Today’s film is 1989’s Swimsuit.  It  can be viewed on Tubi!

Mrs. Allison (Cyd Charisse, in what is basically an extended cameo) is determined to make Saltare Swimsuit Company the most popular swimsuit brand in the world.  And, as we all know, the key to popularity is picking the right models.  She assigns her second-in-command, Brian Rutledge (William Katt, giving off a pure Malibu vibe), to find the most beautiful women and men on the beach.  Joining Brian on this mission is his goofy assistant, Willard Thurm (Tom Villard).

Brian and Willard quickly manage to gather a group of potential models, all of whom will now compete for the chance to represent Saltare.  Among the hopefuls:

Maria (Nia Peeples) is hoping that she will not only become the body of Saltare but that she’ll also be able to launch an acting career.  Complicating matters is that she used to be married to Brian and he tends to get upset whenever an audition causes her to be late to a photoshoot.

Jade (Catherine Oxenberg) wants to be famous and rich and she’s already living a wealthy lifestyle.  Everything about Jade suggests that she’s probably doing massive amounts of cocaine but, since this is a made-for-TV movie, we don’t get to see any of that.  Instead, she ends up having a very unlikely romance with Willard.

Romella (Ally Walker) is Hungarian and speaks mangled English, which this film plays for cringey laughs.  She befriends a male model named Scott (Paul Johansson) and schemes to make money.

Finally, Rosy (Cheryl Pollak) is an innocent and naïve waitress who, like all good Americans, has always dreamed of being a model.  As she competes, she finds herself torn between two potential suitors.  Chris Cutty (Billy Warlock, showing off the blue  collar beach style that landed him the role of the troubled lifeguard on Baywatch) is working class but honest and he has big plans of opening up his own business.  Hart Chadway (Jack Wagner) is slick and wealthy and older.  Gee, I wonder who Rosy will end up with?

You know all the horror stories that you hear about the modeling industry?  The sexual harassment?  The eating disorders?  The constant pressure to be perfect?  The drug addiction and the depression and the stalkers and the cancel crowd watching your every move?  Well, absolutely none of that is present in Swimsuit, which basically portrays modeling as perhaps the most earnest and wholesome industry to be found in the United States.  Mrs, Allison wants the best for all of her models and Brian and Willard are complete gentlemen.  You’ll be able to guess, from the minute she first appears onscreen, who is ultimately going to be the winner of the model search but, in the end, everyone gets something to be happy about.  This is a film without any real conflict, beyond Rosy trying to decide whether to date a working class hunk or a slightly more wealthy hunk.

You may have guessed that there’s not a huge amount of depth to Swimsuit.  It’s a movie about good looking people posing in swimsuits.  It’s the type of film that you can play in the background while you do other things.  Whenever someone starts singing a song on the soundtrack or you hear the sound of waves hitting the beach, you know that it’s time to look at the screen.  No one in the film makes a huge impression, though Cyd Charisse is properly eloquent as Mrs. Allison and William Katt is likable as Brian.  Tom Villard and Catherine Oxenberg make for an unexpectedly cute couple, which just goes to show that it’s never a bad idea to temper beauty with goofiness and vice versa.  Otherwise, this is an inoffensive but slightly forgettable fantasy of what it’s like to be a model.