It seems like foodies are everywhere these days. Maybe Emeril is to blame, maybe it’s Paula Dean, maybe it’s the Food Network as a whole.I have even been sucked in my Anthony Bourdain myself (whose show is ironically also named No Reservations). Wherever there is a trend, there is guaranteed to be a romantic comedy to follow. Enter Aaron Eckhart and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Eckhart has been doing some fantastic work lately, from his work in Thank You for Smoking to lesser known films such as Conversations With Other Women, he is quickly becoming one of the best actors on the scene today.
I have no problems with romantic comedies whatsoever. The problem is that the vast majority of them are just the same film over and over again. A girl who is a cute mess is pursued by a surprisingly understanding man who loves her just the way she is, and the whole thing is wrapped up with some dialog that thinks it is much more clever than it actually is. In this case, the girl is a chef, and the man is her new sous chef. Sure, the not-so-clever is here just as you would expect, but in this film, the serious dialog is no good either. The film is filled with poor imitations of life in a kitchen, not to mention some amazingly bad acting. It is obvious that everybody here phoned it in, which leads me to ask the question of why anybody signed on to do this film at all. In doing some background research, I discovered that Catherine Zeta-Jones worked for exactly one day as a waitress in preparation for her role… as a chef. Believe me, it shows, in the way that an actor who spent one day playing guitar would be completely unconvincing as a musician.
Video quality is predictably good here, as one would hope from an HD DVD. Black levels are extremely deep, and bright colors shine just as they should. However, many of the objects do seem to be a little fuzzy around the edges, and I don’t mean in the way a film is supposed to look. It just lacks a certain sharpness that I have come to expect form HD DVDs. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a great looking film, it is just not quite as perfect as I was hoping it would be.
The audio is surprisingly flat on this disc. There is a scene fairly early in the film where Aaron Eckhart is singing along with an opera recording in the restaurant kitchen, and it is shocking how bland the music is. This is the big scene that is supposed to introduce the character as a dynamic free spirit, but what we get is a bland scene with underwhelming music and no dynamic range. Unfortunately, this trend continues throughout the entirety of the film.
There are just a couple of extras on this disc, but they are actually quite entertaining. Remember when I mentioned Emeril earlier? He’s here, with an episode of Emeril Live where he cooks some of the dishes from the film with the stars by his side. It is a surprisingly entertaining piece that he does from time to time when a food themed movie comes along.
The other extra feature is an episode of Unwrapped, also from the Food Network, where host Marc Summers visits the set and talks to teh stars of the film in an obvious marketing tie-in. Maybe if you like this show, you will get some enjoyment out of this segment, but I mostly found it to be painfully phony and an obvious attempt to sell the film.
This is a truly horrible movie, even by your typical romantic comedy standards. The acting is atrocious, the dialog is ham-fisted, and the special features are a half-hearted effort to say the least. Lest you think that this review is the reflection of a man’s opinion, my wife walked out of the room 25-minutes in to the film, stating that she would rather do the dishes than watch the rest of the film. If you find yourself facing a similar dilemma in your household, do yourself a favor; listen to my wife.