"There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves." Thomas Wolfe
Ratatouille renewed my appetite for food movies, just as Babette's Feast whetted it almost 20 years ago. No Reservations reminds me that even a well-intentioned food movie can be poorly served. Yuck, it's like looking at beautifully-appointed wax fruit; Look too closely and you'll not eat it. If you do eat, you'll regret.
I regret that the beautifully put together Catherine Zeta Jones as Chef Kate at a trendy eatery on Bleeker St. cannot generate half the soul a little animated rat does when he tosses a garlic in a stew. When she puts truffles in a quail sauce, it's like an inept carpenter destroying your cherry cabinet with one blow: You just know he is in the wrong profession. Granted, Zeta-Jones's Kate has the maudlin ingredient cooked right into the plot?her sister killed in an auto accident, her niece becoming her ward, the music tinkling when they look at the family photos and swelling when they do "crazy" things together to create the elusive bond.
All I took away from this tear-jerking rom-com was a desire to go home and cook my favorite pasta combination; Aaron Eckhart's sous-chef Nick inspired me with his rendition. But in the end, I laughed little (cooking cute is a tough assignment), was annoyed at the well-worn plot (Would Kate and Nick fall in love, she the crusty chef, he the canoodling cook?), and just wanted to get the bill and go.
As you can tell, I have plenty of reservations about No Reservations. See what I mean: You knew I'd try to be critic cute with that title. What fun can it be to know what's going to happen?