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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

No Reservations

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Judy Thorburn

No Reservations

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"NO RESERVATIONS" - ZETA JONES AND ECKHARDT CREATE A RECIPE FOR LOVE

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

Carol Fuch’s script of “No Reservations” is based on Sandra Nettlebeck’s 2002 German film “Mostly Martha”. Not having seen the original, I can’t make any comparison between the two. What I do know is that there are so many other better title options for this Hollywood remake, that shifts the characters and location to the Big Apple, which would have been more apropos.

As it stands, this romantic comedy/drama adaptation stars Catherine Zeta Jones as Kate, an intense, executive chef of an upscale Greenwich Village restaurant whose life is turned upside down after her sister dies in a car accident. Kate finds herself having to take in and care for her motherless ten year old niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin), and also deal with Nick a charming, free spirited, opera loving soux chef (Aaron Eckhardt) that is hired by her boss, Paula (Patricia Clarkson) to fill in while she takes some time off.

For Kate, her life’s focus is being obsessed with controlling her kitchen as a top chef and creating new recipes, and nothing more. Dating is out of the question regardless of male admirers, including the amiable neighbor in her apartment building who clearly shows interest. Another non issue is looking glamorous, as Kate wears little, if any, makeup and is always seen in jeans and pullover sweaters when not dressed in her chef’s uniform. All of her time is spent in the kitchen or at early morning visits to the fish market except for sessions with a therapist (Bob Balaban), where she is forced to go by her boss because of Kate’s unacceptable, nasty interaction with restaurant patrons who criticizes anything about her dishes.

Now suddenly, comfortably single Kate’s routine is thrown out of whack. Unexpectedly, she is sharing her spacious apartment and trying to bond with her niece, situations that are foreign to the workaholic chef. Kate doesn’t know anything about feeding a kid and prepares her usual culinary fixings that Zoe refuses to eat. If that isn’t enough to throw her for a loop, at work, Kate butts heads with happy go lucky Nick, whose casual technique and light hearted manner with food and assistants in the kitchen hits a raw nerve with the uptight head chef. Kate thinks Nick is a rival, and jealously believes that he is trying to take over her kitchen especially after he is offered to stay on full time.

It’s a no brainer that according to formula, which is pretty evident here, the bright and observant kid will be the catalyst for a romantic connection. After leaving Zoe in the care of a hired baby sitter (a pierced, goth like creature, no less) doesn’t work, and she almost forgets to pick up Zoe from school, Kate, decides to bring Zoe along to work so she wouldn’t be left alone. An immediate rapport between Zoe and Nick takes place after he cleverly leaves a bowl of spaghetti in her lap to watch for him as he rushes off to fulfill a duty. No surprise, it takes less than a minute before Zoe is filling her stomach and realizing she’s made a new adult friend she can connect to that makes her laugh and is understanding. An idea pops up to play matchmaker for aunt Kate, who grants Zoe’s wish to have Nick over for dinner which sets the stage for a budding romance between the two grown ups. It’s interesting that as Kate’s animosity dissolves and their romance blossoms, Kate begins to let her hair down, literally and figuratively.

As far as romantic comedies go No Reservations doesn’t exactly break the mold and offer any surprises. If you’ve seen enough films of this genre you know the basic formula and the predictable ending. However, it doesn’t insult your intelligence or contain any lewd scenes or vulgar language which, in these days, is refreshing. It helps that Zeta Jones and Eckhardt have great chemistry. They make a great looking couple and although Eckhardt is very appealing as Nick, I have one gripe, that his underwritten character was not developed. No way can one man be that perfect, a dream come true for any woman – good looking, charming, funny, understanding, smart, and lives in an expensive loft, which means he also has money.

Both actors let it be known that they did some research in preparing for their role. Eckhardt took some culinary lessons from a real life top chef and Zeta Jones actually spent some time as a server in Fiamma Osteria, a fancy shmancy New York restaurant where some of the patrons told her she looked exactly like….herself, of course, in which she responded, “I get that all the time”.

As the young co-star, Breslin (as Oscar nominee for last year’s Little Miss Sunshine) once again shows why she is a rising star in high demand for parts that Dakota Fanning, now hitting her teens, has outgrown.

No Reservations won’t win any awards, nor is it likely to be on my 2007 top ten list. Yet, it fills a niche for audiences out there hungry for a sweet romantic story that is easy to swallow, and, I have “no reservations” calling it a perfect date movie. Only I would change the title to the more fitting, Recipe for Love.