No Reservations (2007)

Rated: PG
Grade: DB+CD=D
Budget: $28 million
Box Office: $43 million US, $49 million Int’l, $11 million DVD

Directed by: Scott Hicks, who previously made Hearts in Atlantis, Snow Falling on Cedars, and Shine as well as a video for the 2004 “I’m Only Looking, The Best of INXS” retrospective.
Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, and Eric Silver.

When a successful and neurotic New York chef’s sister dies, she must learn how to be a parent to the young girl and also navigate a new sous-chef who seems to be sincere and not a threat to her kitchen fiefdom.

Entertainment Value: D
Yawn. Everything about this movie screamed potential, but everything in the movie itself failed. I didn’t care about the characters, except for Aaron Eckhart, who I mostly wanted to find a better woman than Kate. The story is predictable, uncharming, and annoying, primarily because it was such a disappointment compared to what I expected. At a PG rating, this had so much potential. Oh, well.

Superficial Content: B+
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality B, Violence A, Language B, Illegality A.
No drugs, but plenty of alcohol, if that’s an issue for you. A babysitter is implied to have been a chain smoker. There is sex implied, but only kissing is ever shown. There are a few arguments and some mild profanity. Since the plot is built around a daughter losing her mother, the death elements are the thematic content the MPAA was worried about. This is a solid PG movie.

Significant Content: C
If you act impetuously, it will all work out fine in the end just as long as you are talented enough at what you do. It’s okay to be disloyal to your boss and your coworkers. Making your own recipes (in the kitchen and in life) is the best way. One thing I will say for this movie is that at least (and it’s no small thing) the man is the solid one in it. He’s flaky, but at least he knows what’s right and he is the one with integrity. That alone moved this up from a D to a C.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
It’s been three minutes, let’s have another generic scene of Kate ordering the restaurant workers around. No, wait, this is the part where we’re supposed to play generic music. Uh, does anyone know why a chef in New York City drives a Dodge Ram? Advertising revenue, perhaps? The real problem with this movie is that all the best elements were done before, whether in Green Card with Gerard Depardieu or Raising Helen or even in Ratatouille. What could have been interesting didn’t pan out, and what was trite and unfunny, well, it sure didn’t get cut out.

Discussion Questions:
~Have you known anyone who lost a parent or both parents at a young age?
~Which is a better education for Zoe, going to school or helping out in a restaurant?
~Why do you think Nick was interested in Kate?
~Kate claims that her mother was a better cook than even her famous mentor. Does this seem plausible to you? What point about mothers and education is she trying to make in this movie?
~Is it likely that even the socially inept Kate would have left Zoe with the grunge-teenager babysitter?
~Does Nick’s character seem plausible to you?
~How important is it for a young girl to have both a female and a male role model? Why, specifically?
~What do you think of Kate’s actions toward the end at the restaurant?
~Is it ever okay to let your emotions get the better of you? Is this a good thing to allow on a regular basis?
Overall Grade: D
If you were hoping for the next great Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan romantic comedy, well, keep hoping.

No comments: