Release Date: July 27th by Warner Bros. Pictures.
The Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade, Bob Balaban.
Directed by Scott Hicks.
BASIC PREMISE: Kate (Zeta-Jones), a top chef at a Manhattan restaurant, becomes the guardian of her niece’s young daughter, Zoe (Breslin), and falls in love with a new sous chef, Nick (Eckhart), at work.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: This remake of the 2001 German film Mostly Martha follows the typical formula for most Hollywood romantic dramedies and has a few charming moments, but, for the most part, it feels bland and contrived. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Kate, a sexy head chef who hasn’t found a man to settle down with because she’s too obsessed with work and uptight. Everything changes once her sister dies and leaves her with young, adorable Zoe, who takes a while to warm up to Kate. At the same time, Kate’s boss (Clarkson) hires Nick, a sous chef, who flirts with her while she plays hard-to-get. The plot is as uncomplicated and predictable as it sounds, but the main problem is that the characters seem dull and underdeveloped. Co-screenwriters Carol Fuchs and Sandra Nettelbeck often include stilted dialogue and scenes that either try too hard to be funny and fail or corny scenes that will make you roll your eyes. Kate doesn’t even seem like a reasonable person to begin with, especially since she leaves Zoe home alone on weekends while she works and brings her to work later in the evening, even on weekdays. She and Nick only fall in love because the plot requires them to. A scene when he spoon-feeds her while she’s blind-folded worked in the original German film, but feels corny and contrived here. Director Scott Hicks, who once directed the superb, deeply moving film Shine, takes your focus away from the characters by including lots of tasty dishes and a lively soundtrack that includes classical music and opera. The score by composer Philip Glass sounds great as well. Only Abigail Breslin adds a little cuteness and charm, just as expected. If this film were from her character’s perspective instead of from Kate’s, this could have been at least as charming as the far superior Ratatouille.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Bland, contrived and corny.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 5
IN A NUTSHELL: Somewhat charming and filled with lively food and music, but with bland characters and a contrived and corny plot.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: TV
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