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What's Cooking? (2000)
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Review Date: August 31, 2000
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Writer: Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges
Producers: Jeffrey Taylor
Actors:
Alfre Woodard
Mercedes Ruehl
Kyra Sedgwick
Joan Chen
Plot:
Four families from different cultural backgrounds (Jewish, Latino, Vietnamese, African-American) celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving in respectively intertwining stories. Many issues are comedically and dramatically discussed here including adultery, racism, cultural ethnocentricity, teen accessibility to guns, homosexuality, mother-in-laws, parental pressure, old school mentality, interracial dating and much, much more.
Critique:
A well-rounded blend of stories combine to create an ideal picture for all families to see in respect to the holiday of Thanksgiving. This movie has many of the elements needed to create a good movie, including plenty of humor, dramatic moments, confident directing and wonderful acting performances. Alongside that are all the elements needed to generate resonant feelings of Thanksgiving, including the cozy nature of the picture, the light, agreeable soundtrack, the wonderful presentations of food and drink, and the ultimate feelings of love and anger shared by family members throughout. I truly enjoyed this movie because it didn't really allow me not to like it. It presented me with four stories, each of which was as interesting as the next, many engaging characters, most of whom shared issues and tribulations to which I could relate, and a lot of cultural differences, many of which are universally appreciated. The film is well presented, easily understood and doesn't overdo the "sappy" stuff.

In fact, that is sort of related to the one thing which sort of disappointed me about the film, and that was its lack of powerful closure. The film cleaned up all of its stories by the final frame, but I honestly expected more of an emotional punch from each. The conclusions were all generally well-handled, but after spending so much time with each family, I was hoping to feel a little more from their stories, but alas, t'was not to be. Overall, the film worked on various levels including its humor, which seemed to particularly rile up the older members of our audience, and its characters, all of which were played admirably by its actors, none of whom particularly stood out more than the others. And despite a little stereotyping (to be expected since most stereotypes do derive from a little bit of fact), all of the families were very evenly presented here and giving more than enough opportunity to ingratiate themselves to the audience. A perfect movie for the holidays, one that presents a universal theme of highs and lows of family life within different cultures, this movie has the laughs, the drama, the direction and the characters to complete its interesting story presentations. Gobble-gobble and prepare to get real hungry after seeing this film, as the dishes presented within are quite droolable!
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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