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Late For Dinner

Late For Dinner title card

Year - 1991
Studio - Castle Rock Entertainment, Granite Productions, New Line Cinema
Stars - Peter Berg, Brian Wimmer, Marcia Gay Harden, Peter Gallagher, Colleen Flynn
Director - W. D. Richter
Writing Credits - Mark Andrus (screenplay)
Music - David Mansfield


In 1962 Santa Fe, financially strapped Willie Husband (Brian Wimmer) is married to Joy (Marcia Gay Harden). He goes to see land developer, Bob Freeman (Peter Gallagher) about saving his property, accompanied by his brother, Frank (Peter Berg). In addition to being mentally challenged, Frank suffers from a severe kidney disease. Realizing Freeman is cheating him to get his land, he angrily leaves. Returning home, he discovers Frank has secretly brought Freeman's little boy along, asking "Can we keep him?" He arranges a meeting for Freeman to pick up his son. But when Freeman arrives, he brings a friend with a gun, and attempts to frame Willie for kidnapping. A scuffle breaks out, and both Willie and the armed man are shot.

When they arrive home, a police car is waiting. Fearing they'll be arrested for murder, they drive off, headed for California. Willie is badly wounded, so they find a doctor in Pomona to treat his injuries. The doctor is sympathetic to their plight, believing their story that they will likely go to jail for no fault of their own. He realizes they are perfect candidates for his cryogenics research and, while Willie sleeps, asks Frank if he'd like to "...have a good sleep and then wake up and maybe get a brand new kidney." He calls his associates, and Frank and Willie are cryogenically frozen and stored in a large warehouse facility.

Late for Dinner poster

Twenty-nine years later, a load falls from a passing semi-trailer and crashes through the skylight of the warehouse, setting off a chain reaction of spillage and electrical fires. Willie and Frank are ejected from the freezing unit, and they revive. Perspiring profusely from the temperature change shock, and with Frank's kidney in pain, they find a hospital emergency room. Frank receives the necessary medication, but they begin to realize that life is far different than they remembered and a newspaper date confirms that it is 1991. Frank's realization is confirmed when Frank tells him what the doctor had proposed before he put them to sleep.

Dealing with the culture shock of their missing twenty nine years (seeing a person withdrawing cash from an ATM, Frank tells Willie that the wall is giving out money), they make the return trip to Santa Fe.

When Willie arrives at his house, his now adult daughter, Jessica (Colleen Flynn) comes to the door. Recovering from the shock, she explains that Joy had eventually remarried, but is now divorced. She also says that the police had never pursued Willie and Frank, and that no one was seriously injured in their confrontation. They go together to Joy's business office, and Jessica enters first to attempt to soften the blow. Joy, hearing Jessica's announcement, reacts with anger, assuming that Willie was returning from a deliberate three decade absence. But as Willie enters the room, she sees him unchanged in appearance from when he vanished. Confused, she runs out and drives off in a panic.

Willie follows her to her home, and again explains the circumstances of his absence, and vows his continued love for her. Joy expresses her fear that his love will not survive their physical age differences, but he responds, "Then you don't love me the way I love you." Frank arrives and Joy is overcome with emotion in seeing him exactly the way she remembered him. He asks her innocently, "You're not mad at me are you?" and adds, "You look so old."

Willie and Joy resume their interrupted marriage, and Frank goes to a Minnesota clinic for his kidney transplant.

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Preview Clip

Late for Dinner came out one year before the similar Forever Young. In the latter Film Blanc, Mel Gibson's character ages rapidly to catch up with his chronological age after his cryogenic experience.