Dave's Rating:

3.5

… actually pretty serious and somber …

Who's in It: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson

The Basics: Chef C.Z.-Jones has it all. She's the queen of a fancy restaurant kitchen, and she makes people afraid. Then suddenly she's saddled with her orphaned niece, and the restaurant hires icky-sensualist sous-chef Eckhart to ruin her life. And he would ruin anyone's, really, with his gross Crocs and wacky fish-print chef pants and his lame I-sing-along-to-Andrea Bocelli-and-that-means-I'm-a-sex-machine antics. Worse, he's one of those Like Water for Chocolate guys who think food gives people actual orgasms. In movies, this equals a romantic lead that the main chick ends up Frenching, but in real life, this is a guy you run screaming from.

What's the Deal? You know how it is when you're a no-nonsense, fear-inspiring world-class chef who's also a woman … you just need an adorable moppet and a superstud to come along and melt you into an appropriately feminine shape so that you can dispense warm hugs and pillow fights and ample-bosomed nurturing to the whole planet. It's your JOB IN LIFE.

Why, in Spite of the Above Gripes, I Didn't Totally Hate This:
1. They're selling it like a romantic comedy, but it's actually pretty serious and somber, full of grieving-child moments and sadness.
2. Breslin acts circles around almost everyone, even though Zeta-Jones is pretty nice, too.
3. It's about well-off people in Manhattan, so they all have awesome apartments.
4. Clarkson is kind of great.

OK, Back to Being Annoyed: (And this constitutes a spoiler even though anyone who can't predict the ending of a movie like this probably never goes to movies in the first place.) At the end, they all open their own "family-friendly" place, where kids and dogs are welcome, and you can get fish sticks on the menu. And seriously? I go to restaurants that are dog-and-kid-unfriendly just so I can avoid that kind of thing, so I don't get how this is a happy ending.

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