Best Dinner Scenes in Movie HIstory - Cinematic Dinner Scenes and Table Scenes

The dinner scene. We’re all familiar with an awkward dinner, but some films elevate this mundane practice into pure art. Screenwriting is all about writing what you know, and these writers knew the dinner table was an ideal place for horror, dramatic irony, and comedy. These are the best dinner scenes in movies of all time.

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THE BREAK UP DINNER SCENE

25. The Break-Up (2006)

 The Break-Up

Having a relative try to lead everyone into an acapella rendition of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” is awkward enough on its own. Considering what happens next (the titular break-up), the scene plays a crucial part in the story while being hilarious in its own right.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

Gary’s refusal to help clean up after this dinner leads Brooke to breaking up with him. The Break Up scene is the best moment in the film, in part for how much they put into actually developing characters.

THE INCREDIBLES DINNER SCENE

24. The Incredibles (2004)

The Incredibles

Getting in trouble at school. A moody teenager not eating. These are common staples to most people’s dinners growing up. But in The Incrediblesthe mundanity represents all Bob Parr has given up after superheroes were outlawed. Now, he’s just glad to hear how fast Dash is that he didn’t show up on the cameras.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

Family dinner scenes in movies are common. But this moment is a perfect juxtaposition of the grandeur of superheroes with the mundanity of modern living.

HOOK DINNER SCENE

23. Hook (1991)

Hook Food Fight

Peter Pan and Rufio get into an insult contest across the dinner table. One of the best food fights ever put to screen ensues. It’s a perfect showcase of Robin Williams’ talents as his insults grow more verbose and intricate. Plus, the Spielberg's staging expertly shows the audience who’s in control as the scene goes on.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

The Hook scene shows wonderfully how Robin Williams could go from zero to 100. “Don’t mess with me, man. I’m a lawyer” remains all-time classic sparring words.

SHREK 2 DINNER SCENE

22. Shrek 2 (2004)

 Shrek 2

Meeting your partner’s parents can be pretty awkward. It’s even more awkward when you’re… different. Fiona comes from royalty, and Shrek comes from a swamp. And her parents naturally have some skepticism about this whole relationship. This scene is funny but also surprisingly relatable to anyone who’s ever felt like they didn’t belong.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

The Shrek 2 scene is a great example of outstanding sequels that don’t merely replicate what worked in the first film. It actually takes risks by telling a more mature story.

INSIDE OUT DINNER SCENE

21. Inside Out (2015)

Inside Out Table Scene

Riley’s emotions are all messed up, making for awkward dinner talk. Not only does the scene give insight into Riley’s state of mind, it also does a good deal of world building by showing what’s going on inside the parents’ minds. And it’s pretty hilarious seeing the nuances of the mind interpret every little detail of a conversation.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

The Inside Out dinner scene shows why this is one of Pixar’s most mature films yet. The studio takes relatable situations and makes them magical.

STEP BROTHERS DINNER SCENE

20. Step Brothers (2008)

Step Brothers

For about a minute straight, all anyone talks about in Step Brothers is fancy sauce. And it’s hilarious. Dinner proves to be the perfect location to see just how arrested in development Brennan and Dale are as they refuse to accept the other in their new lives.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly prove why they’re one of the best comedic duos working today. The Step Brothers dinner scene really lets them run wild with these hilarious characters.

WEDDING CRASHERS DINNER SCENE

19. Wedding Crashers (2005)

Wedding Crashers

This scene in Wedding Crashers is hilarious, just one of many likewise uproarious moments. From Grandma's inappropriate comments, to Todd's insecure outburst, the scene highlights one of the advantages of ensemble scenes. In this game of cat and mouse for Claire’s affection, John is about to win an advantage.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

Wedding Crashers is R-rated comedy gold that came out when those were pretty rare. For this moment, the film takes a classic family dinner table scene and completely turns it on its head.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS DINNER SCENE

18. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Family Dinner in Edward Scissorhands

Dinner proves to be an excellent location to introduce Edward Scissorhands to the rest of the Boggs family. There are many production design tips to glean from this scene. Edward’s gothic appearance is contrasted by the relative mundanity of the suburban household. Even without the scissors, Edward sticks out. He doesn’t belong there.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

Edward Scissorhands is one of Tim Burton’s best films. It’s the kind of awkward scene you’d expect considering Burton’s wholly original sensibilities.

CREED 2 DINNER SCENE

17. Creed 2 (2018)

Creed 2 Russian Dinner Scene Translation

Ivan Drago is pretty much a Russian robot in Rocky IV. Creed 2 wisely makes the decision to not make the same mistake. In this scene, Ivan’s son Victor meets his mother. He’s angry because she abandoned her family after Ivan’s loss in the ring. It makes Victor human, which makes him one one of the most compelling antagonists.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

The best dinner scenes in movies do more than just tell us what these characters like to eat. They reveal insights into characters. This particular moment from Creed 2 makes Victor a worthwhile adversary and someone we become invested in.

TITANIC DINNER SCENE

16. Titanic (1997)

Jack Dawson at Dinner in Titanic

Jack’s out of place in this fancy dining room scene. There are several ways in which this is expressed but none moreso than the lighting techniques utilized. The room is bright. You can see every detail. This contrasts significantly with the lower decks, where the lighting is dingier, more muted. But the people there don’t mind. They’re having the time of their life in the dark.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

For many years, Titanic was the highest-grossing film of all time. James Cameron ended up dethroning himself with Avatar, and in either case, moments like the Titanic scene show why he’s a master of his craft.

MEET THE PARENTS DINNER SCENE

15. Meet the Parents (2000)

Meeting the Parents

Greg, who’s Jewish, must say grace at his girlfriend’s Christian family’s dinner table. The scene highlights the disparity between Greg and the family he hopes to be part of. The mix Jewish and Christian ideologies becomes a hilarious thematic motif throughout the film, but this is probably the funniest example.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

Meet the Parents is a classic comedy. From this film as well as Austin Powers 3, there’s much comedy filmmakers can learn from these Jay Roach directing tips.

MRS. DOUBTFIRE DINNER SCENE

14. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

Mrs. Doubtfire Birthday

This scene from Mrs. Doubtfire is probably the best example of the classic sitcom gag where a character goes back and forth between two people at the same location. The difference between this and so many sitcoms is that there are real consequences to the scene with Daniel’s true identity becoming revealed.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

Mrs. Doubtfire features one of Robin Williams’ best performances. This entire sequence as he goes back and forth is a testament to his abilities as a comedic actor.

BOYHOOD DINNER SCENE

13. Boyhood (2014)

Tense Dinner in Boyhood

As most people can attest, many family dinners aren’t filled with funny one-liners. They’re kind of quiet for the most part. That’s how this scene in Boyhood plays out. No one really says anything for most of the time, but it all leads into an explosive climax. The scene itself has the same 3-act structure as a full movie with a set-up, climax, and resolution.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

Boyhood takes an unflinchingly real look at what it’s look to grow up in suburbia. The scene shows how those little moments growing up really impact you much later in life.

THE BUTLER DINNER SCENE

12. The Butler (2013)

The Butler

The Butler dinner scene crescendos into one profound truth. While Cecil doesn’t seem like much, he helped pave the way for the younger generation of Black people who followed him. The division between two generations comes to a head in this scene, and Forest Whitaker proves he should have been nominated for an Oscar with this scene alone.

BEST DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

The Butler scene may be hard to watch if your parents are in the same room. It takes an unflinching look at the sacrifices the older generation made to give the younger generation the tools they need to thrive.

SICARIO DINNER SCENE

11. Sicario (2015)

Bloody Dinner in Sicario

"Every night you have families killed, but yet here you dine. But tonight shouldn't be any different.” The most memorable scene in Sicario starts normally enough for the family… until Alejandro appears. The scene crystallizes the violence the drug trade brings to the world into one last act. And innocent lives end up paying for it.

BEST DINNER Table SCENES

Conclusion

Denis Villeneuve’s directing style is on full display in the Sicario. We don’t immediately see the murdered family members. Instead, he cuts to the father’s reaction, which is somehow even more horrifying.

IT CHAPTER TWO DINNER SCENE

10. It Chapter Two (2019)

The Gang’s Back Together

Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows something the characters don’t. In this scene in It Chapter Two, the audience knows Stan committed suicide. But his friends are none the wiser. That is until Pennywise torments them in attempting to learn that fact. It’s an excellent tool that revs up the suspense of the scene and makes the revelation heartbreaking.

BEST DINNER Table SCENES

Conclusion

The sequel capitalizes on what made the first film work well. A lot of scares come up throughout the film, but the It Chapter Two dinner scene remains one of the most haunting moments in the entire film.

BORAT DINNER PARTY SCENE

9. Borat (2006)

Borat

Unintentionally, the host of this dinner sets up the bit even more wonderfully. She discusses how vast the cultural differences are between her other guests and Borat, and they become even more vast when he comes back into the room holding a bag of his poop.

She pretty much goes through every single human emotion in the span of a few seconds, and it’s just one example why Borat is one of the best comedies ever made.

BEST DINNER Table SCENES

Conclusion

The film highlights many of the hypocrisies in American society. And the Borat dinner party scene is just one hilarious example.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST DINNER SCENE

8. Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Be Our Guest

“Be Our Guest” is a classic Disney song. The song as well as the dinner that follows show how hard the Beast has to try to win Belle’s affection. It’s a great example of how to do develop characters because with every step forward Beast takes, he goes two steps backward in the next scene when he yells at Belle for entering the forbidden room.

BEST DINNER Table SCENES

Conclusion

The Beauty and the Beast dinner scene is just one reason it's one of the best animated movies ever made. 

TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE DINNER SCENE

7. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Cannibal Murderer

Tobe Hooper's seminal low-budget nightmare took the horror genre in an exhilariting direction. The dinner scene in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed over 36 consecutive hours. By then, the heat became unbearable, and the food rotted. No doubt this helped sell the terror in Sally as she’s held captive by cannibalistic murderers.

DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre scene perfectly summarizes why the film has remained one of the all-time horror classics. There are no magical monsters to escape from. Just atrocious human beings.

TALLADEGA NIGHTS DINNER SCENE

6. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Ricky Bobby

Out of all the funny dinner scenes in movies, the one in Talladega Nights takes the cake. But the sequence is more than just funny. It’s also scathing political satire directed toward the values of conservative America. It takes Ricky Bobby several minutes to get through the prayer, praising baby Jesus the entire time, only for him to be perfectly fine later when his kids disrespect their grandfather. The fact that themes of hypocrisy in middle America come shining through in such a funny way make this one of the best dinner scenes in film.

DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

The Talladega Nights dinner scene has so much more going on than people give it credit for. It’s a smart rebuke of Bush-era middle America. And the rest of the movie has plenty of classic one-liners you can’t get tired of.

OLDBOY DINNER SCENE

5. Oldboy (2003)

Oldboy Octopus Scene

Perhaps the most famous scene in Oldboy is where he eats a live octopus. The scene wonderfully captures Oh Dae-su’s mindset. He’s eaten the same thing every day in prison and just wants something different. The film crew even took the scene to the next level by having the actor consume a real live octopus.

DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

There are a lot of tough scenes to get through in Oldboy. But all those scenes lead to a thrilling final product that makes it one of the best South Korean films ever.

AMERICAN HISTORY X DINNER SCENE

4. American History X (1998)

American History X

The conversations that take place over dinner tables in American History X markedly echo those that likely occurred in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd and in the aftermath of Black Lives Matter protests. The above scene, in tandem with a flashback scene we see at dinner where Derek’s father instilled anti-Black sentiments into him, shows how the cycle of white supremacy continues. The scenes show how something as innocuous as dinner conversation can have a profound impact on family dynamics.

DINNER SCENES

Conclusion

American History X is a controversial film. It’s uncomfortable viewing in the same way it may be uncomfortable for white people to stand up to family members at the dinner table to confront them on casual racism.

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL DINNER SCENE

3. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

 Lars and the Real Girl

The acting sells this scene in Lars and the Real Girl. Lars introduces his silicone girlfriend to his brother and his wife, and their reactions are priceless. While Karin tries to be nice, Gus is clearly over the situation. The scene is a masterclass on writing subtext as they try to make normal conversation with the blank stare of a sex doll looking right at you.

DINNER Table SCENES

Conclusion

Lars and the Real Girl has a strange premise. But it’s also incredibly moving as it shows how essential connection is to the human race.

BEETLEJUICE DINNER SCENE

2. Beetlejuice (1988)

Beetlejuice Dinner Table Scene

Beetlejuice’s production designer must have had a field day with this scene. The gothic, dark clothing and architecture are contrasted wonderfully with the silly rendition of “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song).” The juxtaposition instantly made the dinner scene one that’s still fondly remembered all these decades later.

DINNER Table SCENES

Conclusion

The Beetlejuice dinner scene is just one example of how Tim Burton so thoroughly understands film tone. It shows how you can play around with moods and aesthetics to create a memorable moment.

GOODFELLAS DINNER SCENE

1. Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas

When Tommy DeVito and his friends arrive at his mother’s house, she does what any good Italian mother does: cooks them dinner. She remains blissfully unaware of the violence that preceded the scene.

Not only do we get a moment of levity in a violent film, it also humanizes these men. They aren’t just vicious gangsters. They’re human beings with moms who don’t know what they're up to. There’s so much going on in a single scene, it stands out in what’s already one of the best gangster films of all time.

DINNER Table SCENES

Conclusion

Some people may be surprised to learn that much of the Goodfellas dinner scene was improvised. And Martin Scorsese’s own mother plays Tommy’s mom.

UP NEXT

Best Movie Sex Scenes

Dinner scenes provide intimate glimpses into characters’ lives. But there’s a different kind of scene that also reveals a lot about a character: the sex scene. How does someone behave when they’re completely vulnerable? And how do you make a sex scene stand out so that it’s not just there for titillation? Take a look at how the best sex scenes stand out yet remain distinct from one another.

Up Next: Best Movie Sex Scenes →
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