The 21 most awkward dinner scenes in film
Be glad when your group dinner isn't nearly as uncomfortable as these movie moments.
Dinners that made us cringe
Sure, the food is great, and getting together with the family is nice, but it's rare to get through a big family dinner without at least a little bit of awkwardness — it just comes with the territory. At least you can hope your Thanksgiving feast (or other gathering) won't be as cringeworthy as some of these wild dinners from film. Ahead, 21 of the most painful meals in movies.
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Having dinner with your brother's new girlfriend might be a bit awkward. Imagine how much more awkward it becomes when you see that said girlfriend is clearly a sex doll, whom your brother believes to be a real woman. Yeah…
Dinner for Schmucks (2010)
A dinner party couldn't get any more chaotic if you purposefully packed it full of eccentrics — and that's exactly what the malicious businessmen in Dinner for Schmucks do. The meal is brought to an end after a fire breaks out and an important Swiss investor loses his finger to a bird. So, all in all, not great.
Meet the Parents (2000)
Greg's (Ben Stiller) desperation to impress his girlfriend's parents sets the bar for awkward dinner scenes in modern comedies. Greg does everything wrong: He tries to pass off the lyrics to "Day by Day" from Godspell as a prayer, claims that he milks cats, and tops it all off by destroying the urn that held the ashes of his girlfriend's beloved grandmother.
American Beauty (1999)
Asparagus has never been so scary. What should've been simply an uneventful family dinner in suburbia becomes a sarcastic yelling match after Lester (Kevin Spacey) quits his job and blackmails his boss. As his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) berates him, he throws a plate of asparagus against the wall and tells her that he's going to do what he wants from now on.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Happy-go-lucky Avon saleswoman Peg (Dianne Wiest) may be trying her best to keep this family dinner pleasant, but the pale man with sharp blades for fingers that she invited over can't help but make things pretty awkward as he constantly tries and fails to pick up even a single pea. Her son Kevin (Robert Oliveri) won't stop staring, and her husband Bill (Alan Arkin) insists on calling him Ed instead of Edward.
Wedding Crashers (2005)
When the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury invites wedding crashers John (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy (Vince Vaughn) to dinner, the two accept so John can spend more time with the man's daughter. But the dysfunction is evident right away, as a homophobic grandma, an emotionally sensitive son, some drugged wine, and an under-the-table sexual act make this dinner one that nobody will forget.
Back to the Future (1985)
It's hard to imagine anything being more awkward than eating dinner next to your mom while she hits on you. Understandably, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) darts out of his grandparents' 1955 dinner when his mother touches his leg after suggesting he stay in her room that night.
Being possessed and forced to sing a famous Jamaican folk song is definitely out of the ordinary for most dinner parties, but not the one in Beetlejuice. To try to scare the Deetz family out of their home, the recently deceased Maitlands (Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis) have them and their dinner guests involuntarily perform Harry Belafonte's definitive version of "Day-O," much to their confusion.
My Best Friend's Wedding (1997)
That awkward moment when your fake fiancé turns an equally fake story at lunch into a full performance of a classic song. Everyone at the table gets into singing their parts of Dionne Warwick's "I Say a Little Prayer" in the middle of the restaurant.
Pineapple Express (2008)
A 25-year-old stoner showing up late and bloody to meet his high school-aged girlfriend's parents is already a setup for a disastrous dinner. From there, things only get worse, as Dale (Seth Rogen) rambles on about a murder plot and his girlfriend's father responds by telling him to leave before he gets his gun. Guess he's not staying for dessert...
American History X (1998)
A discussion about police brutality at the dinner table is bound to be pretty heated, but it gets downright scary when it's between a young neo-Nazi and a liberal Jewish professor who is dating his mom. After going on a racist diatribe, Derek (Edward Norton) nearly suffocates his sister, screams obscenities at his mom's boyfriend, and shows him his swastika tattoo before kicking him out of the house.
Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
It's no ordinary dinner when you find out your ex-husband has been disguising himself as an older female nanny. Daniel (Robin Williams) is forced to jump between two important meals, one as himself for his job, and another as the nanny Mrs. Doubtfire for the birthday celebration organized by his ex-wife Miranda's (Sally Field) new guy Stuart (Pierce Brosnan). Of course, things go wrong, as Daniel's facial prosthetics fall off in front of his ex-wife. As expected, she doesn't take it well.
It's pretty safe to assume any dinner with Hannibal Lecter would be far from typical. In the follow-up film to The Silence of the Lambs, Agent Starling (Julianne Moore) wakes up drugged at a dinner table as Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) removes the scalp of a Justice Department official, cuts out a piece of his brain, and feeds it to him. Not the most appetizing main course.
Legally Blonde (2001)
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) goes on a romantic dinner date with her boyfriend Warner (Matthew Davis), expecting that this will be the night he proposes. She jumps the gun and excitedly says "I do" before realizing that he's actually breaking up with her. Understandably, Elle is upset when Warner tells her she wouldn't make a respectable senator's wife, and begins to sob.
Django Unchained (2012)
Dinner is a bit bizarre when a plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) insists on examining the skull of an enslaved person at the table. However, it gets much worse when his henchmen pull guns on Django (Jamie Foxx) and Schultz (Christoph Waltz) and he rubs his bloody hand over the face of Django's wife (Kerry Washington) while threatening to kill her.
The Break-Up (2006)
A big dinner with your ex and her family is already awkward enough, but it becomes downright cringeworthy when her brother talks passionately about his a cappella group and then tries to make you sing with him.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
There are always some surprises at Dr. Frank-N-Furter's (Tim Curry) mansion, and dinnertime is no exception. Frank reveals that the meat they've all eaten has been made from the body of his ex-lover, Eddie. Hands down, the worst meatloaf dinner ever.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
Before the Bobby family can dive into their feast of Domino's, KFC, and Taco Bell, Ricky (Will Ferrell) begins saying grace to baby Jesus, which frustrates his wife Carley (Leslie Bibb) and father-in-law Chip (Ted Manson) who remind him that Jesus grew up. After the prayer, Ricky's sons Walker (Houston Tumlin) and Texas Ranger (Grayson Russell) threaten their grandpa. When Ricky encourages the insults, Carley gets turned on and they decide to use the dinner table in place of a bed.
The Birdcage (1996)
Can a drag club owner and his partner/drag star get through a dinner with a highly conservative family without revealing their stereotypically "nontraditional" lifestyle? Albert (Nathan Lane) is able to convince the couple he's a woman for a while, but it doesn't last. That — on top of the homoerotic dinner plates and a soup full of hard-boiled eggs — turns dinner into an awkward mess.
Nothing conventional happens in David Lynch's feature film debut Eraserhead, and that includes the dinner scene in which Henry (Jack Nance) sits down with his girlfriend and her parents. He's given a miniature chicken to carve, but it begins moving and bleeding when he sticks his fork into it. Then, his girlfriend's mother convulses and leaves the table screaming. Maybe they should just order a pizza?
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
The Griswold family is known for turning every situation into a mess, and that's exactly what they do to their Christmas Eve dinner. After an elderly relative leads the family in the Pledge of Allegiance instead of grace, Clark (Chevy Chase) begins to carve the turkey, only to witness it burst in a puff of smoke as he cuts into it.