review for Late for Dinner on AllMovie

Late for Dinner (1991)
by Karl Williams review

That most frustrating of films, the near miss, is the best way to describe this intelligent science fiction-drama that suffers badly from a meandering aimlessness and sluggish pace. A seemingly endless first act takes up over half of the film's running time, leaving the most interesting and entertaining reunion sequences for the very end of the tale. The idea of a cryogenically frozen husband reunited with his wife after three decades is a ripe one with exciting narrative possibilities, but the concept that should be the basis for the entire film is literally left to the coda. As the heroes wander, trying to grasp what has happened to them, the film simply floats away, any engagement a viewer might feel dissipating into an overall spirit of thwarted greatness. In his previous film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), director W.D. Richter displayed the same creative weakness that screenwriter Mark Andrus would later exhibit in As Good As It Gets (1997), a lack of facility with the construction of a story. Despite their obvious talent with actors and an inventive story idea (mixing the comically observant, relationship-focused style of Woody Allen with the high-concept fantasy twists of Steven Spielberg), the team just can't seem to stay on the narrative path. Late for Dinner (1991) wanders to and fro in search of a spine, sadly piffling away its chance to at least exceed in quality the similar Mel Gibson vehicle Forever Young (1992).