Review by Jack Foley
ON THE surface, No Reservations would seem to offer an appetising blend of good food, lightweight romance and touching family melodrama. But the ensuing feast leaves a thoroughly unpleasant taste.
Scott Hicks’ film, a remake of the German comedy Mostly Martha, suffers from a complete lack of credibility and a lead character that’s difficult to warm to at best.
Catherine Zeta-Jones plays uptight Manhattan chef Kate, who finds her fussy, ordered life plunged into chaos when she’s forced to become the guardian of her recently orphaned niece (Little Miss Sunshine‘s Abigail Breslin).
To make matters worse, her work routine is undermined by the arrival of charismatic new sous chef Nick (Aaron Eckhart), who promptly impresses everyone with his easygoing style.
Initially sceptical of his presence, Kate soon warms to his charms and discovers the possibility of romance and a life outside of the kitchen, while slowly coming to terms with her new family situation.
Audiences can pretty much guess where the story’s heading given the well-trodden nature of its path. But while No Reservations ticks all the right boxes for the hopeless romantics, it fails to engage on an emotional level.
Zeta-Jones’ Kate is so selfish and self-centred at times that it’s difficult to fathom why Nick would fall for her in the first place, or wait for so long for her to change.
While her relationship with Breslin’s orphan lacks any real plausibility and is over-reliant on food gags and soft-focus pillow fights to gauge where they stand.
Eckhart, for his part, is suitably charismatic but there’s no real explanation of his passion for all things Italian, while his constant pandering to Kate’s moodswings eventually becomes annoying.
The whole thing makes a mockery of the upper class food and setting that hints at a more sophisticated audience, but which actually delivers a much less appetising, fast food style experience.
Come the tedious finale, in which events conspire to deliver a predictably gooey climax, audiences may feel more than a little sick.
Running time: 104mins
DVD Release Date: January 28, 2008