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No Reservations
DVD disk
02.12.2008 By: Mathew Plale
No Reservations order
Director:
Scott Hicks

Actors:
Catherine Zeta Jones
Aaron Eckhart
Abigail Breslin

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A "my way or the highway" chef (Zeta-Jones) faces excess challenges when an Opera-loving assistant chef (Eckhart) and her orphaned niece (Breslin) enter her life.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I used to walk out of Dr. Allen’s office in pain, quietly demeaning and simplifying him and his profession: “Do all dentists pack their kid’s lunch with toothpaste before sending them out the door?” Probably not, I later learned, but chef Kate Armstrong actually prepares Bahamian mahi-mahi for two at home on weeknights.

Armstrong (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is Manhattan’s finest and most territorial Chef de Cuisine with the skill of Julia Child and the looks of Rachael Ray. She’s our lead, but since studios won’t allow Zeta-Jones to fly solo for 104 minutes, co-writers Carol Fuchs & Sandra Nettelbeck tack on two supporters: niece and orphaned interference Zoe (the always-cherubic Abigail Breslin) and sous-chef Nick (Aaron Eckhart), whose affinity for all things opera and Italian prove a nuisance to Kate.

How Zoe and Nick come into Kate’s life is easy enough: Zoe’s mother dies in a car accident, leaving “Me-Me-Me” Kate as guardian; so to make her job easier at her Bleecker Street restaurant, Nick is hired. And through heaps of montages and some Cupidry on Zoe’s part, the trio forms a likely squad, dancing-and-dashing in a kitchen that is, on a daily basis, all-too-anticipatory of the health inspector.

The problem with Scott Hicks’ (Hearts in Atlantis, Snow Falling on Cedars) No Reservations (a remake of the German Bella Martha, also penned by Nettelbeck) isn’t the contrived plot or that Zeta-Jones is unlikable and Eckhart isn’t living up to 2006’s promise. It’s Breslin’s Zoe: at ten, she doesn’t know her matchmaking will make her aunt less stressed—she’s trying to recreate the hallmark family she lost so early—an abnormal step likely to foot Aunt Kate with two therapy bills.

But picking on a 5th-grader makes me something of a bully. Knocking No Reservations makes me something of a leveled 20-something. So what’s the benefit of continuing this review? I could call it “undercooked” or say it’s a “recipe for disaster” and be done with it, but how obvious is that? I hand it over to you, reader, to write in with your {ahem} “cheesiest” cooking-themed quips and finish this review. To the victor, the spoiled: a used copy of No Reservations on DVD…
THE EXTRAS
UnWrapped (21:01): In this special of Food Network’s show UnWrapped, host Marc Summers give us a look at No Reservations through interviews (Zeta-Jones, Eckhart, Breslin, chef Michael White, and others), on-set footage, and a look at the film’s pre-production.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
No Reservations won't offer much new in the way of a romance, or a comedy, or a movie in general...and the leads don't help much either. But if this is the only new release on the shelf and you've got a mate by your side, go for it.
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