- Directed by W. D. Richter
- September 20, 1991
Two men on the run for a crime they did not commit are cryogenically frozen and wake up 29 years later to a strange new world.
One thing this movie has going for it is that it is not a comedy. Most films with cryonics as part of the plot where the person/people get frozen in the past and wakes in the present or future are comedies. Whacky things happen when our leads do get thawed. While some silliness does occur, it is done because just yesterday (to our two main characters) they were in a completely different era. This is a romantic science fiction dramatic presentation and treats the plot on the whole seriously.
The main focus of the story are best friends and brothers-in-law Willie Husband (Brian Wimmer) and mentally challenged Frank Lovegren (Peter Berg). In 1962 they are on the run from the police because Willie shot and killed a man. It was self-defense, but a witness intends to frame them both for kidnapping and murder since Frank had innocently “borrowed” the son of the man they had gone to see.
You see their home was foreclosed on after Willie lost his job at the milk plant in an effort by local developer Bob Freeman (Peter Gallagher) to swindle everyone out of the land and build a rather nice development. Frank had gone to Bob’s office with proof he had the money and had paid the money owed but Bob destroyed it.
With Bob’s young son Donald (Ross Malinger) in the back of the car when Willie and Frank leave the office, this gives Bob an opportunity to set up a kidnapping charge and get Willie and Frank sent to jail and get the house for almost no money at all. But things do not go as planned and one of Freeman’s henchmen gets shot, along with Willie, forcing Frank and Willie to run.
Willie, with Frank unconscious in the back of their vehicle stumbles across a doctor experimenting in cryogenics. Not fully comprehending everything that is being told to him, Frank agrees to he and Willie being test subjects in large part due to the vague promise that when Frank wakes up that there will be a treatment for the kidney condition that will eventually kill him.
The focus of the film is Willie and Frank’s journey back home and the rapid adjustment that they must make to nearly 30 years having passed for them seemingly overnight. A lot of what occurs is culture shock as they are forced to rapidly adjust to the world of 1991. In their minds it is still the early 60s and things like cell phones and African-American doctors and the general chaos of 1991 are shocking.
Marcia Gay Harden plays Willie’s wife (and Frank’s sister) Joy. She is deeply in love with her husband so much so that her two attempts to find love after he vanished were a failure. Joy has never really given up hope that Willie and Frank are still out there and that she might see them again. She has attempted to move on with her life though. She managed to save the home and build a successful business afterwards. Her and Willie’s now adult daughter both run it.
This is a story about true love and how it can last across time and remain secure despite differences in age. The husband is not in love with a face or body, but he is in love with the mind and the spirit-the things that matter.
The moments when Willie finally gets back to Joy are sweet and chaotic and at points humorous. They first find themselves at Willie’s now adult daughter’s (Colleen Flynn) house who has interestingly married Donald (Richard Steinmetz). The moments when Willie and/or Frank encounter someone they knew/know are funny, sweet, and heartbreaking. These occur at three points with the culmination being Willie finally seeing Joy.
This is one of two films directed by W.D. Richter with the other being The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. That is a fantastically odd and quirky movie. The man worked in the industry for a long time though he barely directed instead doing more work as a screenwriter and producer.
Personally I really enjoyed this film. It was a different type of romantic story. They tossed in trying to get back to your love with a little bit of science fiction which was cryogenics in my recollection which was becoming a little bit more topical. To go off on a bit of a tangent I remember a guy going on Donahue and he was being interviewed about this in his plan to have his head froze and to have a new body cloned when he was revived. Weird.
This film is a quirky story about characters with science fiction being the McGuffin that gets things going. It is about their love for one another and their need to get back what they lost. It is about how time does not matter when you truly care.
Late for Dinner is a sweet film that plays on your emotions and is well acted with the material taken seriously. If you have a heart, you will enjoy this movie.