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The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: 90s Comedies • The Last Supper • D: Stacy Title (1995)

The Last Supper

“How could you guys eat with a dead man at the table?”

With an Oscar nomination under her belt for a short film and connections to many in Hollywood, Stacy Title was in a great position to make her first feature. She and screenwriter Dan Rosen made a black comedy that tackled liberals and conservatives along with bombastic one-way thinking with their collaboration The Last Supper. Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our 90s Comedies series with Title’s 1995 film The Last Supper.

More Than Biblical References

The title clearly connects the film to Biblical stories, so does that make this film more of a parable? Crafting a black comedy can be very challenging as often, we’re left with few people to root for. That’s certainly the case here as everyone ends up fairly despicable, even if they find a form of salvation in the end. So with all of that, how well does Title bring this film to fruition?

And what about the actors? We have Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard, Annabeth Gish, Courtney B. Vance, and Jonathan Penner as our five liberal grad students who set the story’s deadly dinners into motion. Their guests include Bill Paxton, Charles Durning, Mark Harmon, Jason Alexander, and Ron Perlman. The actors are all bringing their own thing to the parts, but are they given enough to work with? Or perhaps as a parable, the script is giving them – and by extension us – enough to work with so we can watch the story unfold and deliver its message.

To the point of the message, is it as effective as we’d like? Does the ‘if you could travel back in time, would you kill young Hitler before he could do anything’ question posed several times throughout the film deliver the point of the film? How about that last dinner with Ron Perlman’s Rush Limbaugh-esque character?

And what about the story thread with Nora Dunn’s sheriff as she tries to find a missing girl? What’s that doing for the story? Is it as effective as we want it to be? Could it have been used for better effect?

Stacy Title’s Battle with ALS

Unfortunately, Stacy Title was diagnosed with ALS in 2017, and it took her from this life in 2021. She never had as robust a film career as she likely deserved, though she still managed to make some interesting projects. We chat a bit about her and the struggles she had. We also touch on the commitment her husband Penner had in supporting her through this difficult time.

Wrapping up

All in all, it’s an interesting film that generates some interesting conversations. Did it work better in 1995 than it does today? Or perhaps does it feel more relevant today than it did then? Would it work as a play now if updated? Or would that fall as flat as the film does for some modern eyes? There’s a lot to talk about here and we have a great time digging into it. So check it out then tune in. The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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