For filmmakers, actors, and chronic eavesdroppers everywhere, it's a genuine privilege to watch "Dinner for Five". As the congenial host of this popular Independent Film Channel series, writer-director-actor Jon Favreau ("Swingers", "Made", "Elf") brings credibility and comfort to his diverse quartets of dinner guests, all of whom bring valuable experience to the table. A certain degree of self-censorship and diplomacy is to be expected, but Favreau encourages candor and free-flowing insight as his famous guests enjoy fine dining in trendy Los Angeles and New York City restaurants (all of which are detailed in a helpful bonus feature). The series' intimate concept allows guests (from TV, film, and music) to loosen up and reveal the inner workings of the entertainment world, primarily (but not exclusively) from the perspective of acting--a profession as heartbreaking as it is potentially rewarding.
Ranging from 22 to 40 minutes in length, each episode offers memorable revelations (Joey Lauren Adams dislikes filming love scenes; Peter Falk calls Vince Vaughn a scene-stealing "hog"; Ron Livingstone jokingly speculates about "the dark side" of Tom Hanks; Juliette Lewis recalls her famous seduction scene with Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese's "Cape Fear"; Marilyn Manson demonstrates his strip-club expertise, etc.), and the entire series has an irresistible fly-on-the-wall allure, dispensing with the regimented phoniness of publicity-driven interviews. Best of all is the editing and thorough but mostly-invisible camera coverage that captures revealing, non-verbal exchanges between guests who may or may not know or like each other, and whose expressions speak volumes about themselves and the people around them. Varying degrees of looseness or tension turn "Dinner for Five" into a frequently humorous, universally revealing social experiment, removed from the context of celebrity. These are real people with real quirks and foibles, and that makes them all the more endearing, especially in deleted segments and outtakes. "--Jeff Shannon"