Eric D. Snider

No Reservations

Movie Review

No Reservations

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: C

Released: July 27, 2007


Directed by:


I already wrote about "No Reservations," sort of, in my review of "Lucky You," where I noted that both films seemed to be the type where some activity or profession is used as a Metaphor for Life.

Before "Lucky You" began, I saw a trailer for a film called "No Reservations," which looks to be the same type of movie. "No Reservations" is about a chef whose personal life is in disarray, so the movie's tagline is "Sometimes life isn't made to order." Then the chef says, "I wish there was a cookbook for life," and her friend says, "It's the recipes you create yourself that are the best."

GET IT?! Cooking is a metaphor for LIFE!

Despite being based only on the trailer, that preliminary dismissal of "No Reservations" turns out to be more or less accurate. (One correction: The "friend" is actually her therapist.) The cooking-represents-life metaphors aren't overplayed, but the film as a whole is generically pleasant and completely forgettable. Minor conflicts arise in the story at the regularly scheduled intervals, and they are dealt with speedily. There's nothing to dislike about the movie, but there's nothing to like, either. Watching it would have the exact same impact on you as not watching it.

Catherine Zeta-Jones is typecast as a cold, unpersonable New York chef named Kate. She rules the kitchen at the fashionable 22 Bleecker (that's the name of the restaurant) with a firm hand, bristling at the slightest criticism and unwaveringly confident in her culinary brilliance. Her boss (Patricia Clarkson) has urged her to see a therapist (Bob Balaban) about her unyielding rigidness, which seems to have extended into her personal life, too. She tells the shrink that her last relationship ended because, after two years, the guy wanted them to move in together, and she didn't see any reason to give up her apartment.

Naturally, when you meet a movie character as unbending as Kate, you know she's about to have her life turned upside-down. Boy howdy, ain't that always the way? And sure enough, fate gives her the ol' one-two punch: First she becomes the caretaker of her newly orphaned niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin), and then she butts heads with the restaurant's new sous chef, Nick (Aaron Eckhart), who -- wouldn't you know it! -- is as freewheeling and loosy-goosy as Kate is buttoned-down!

Young Zoe is forlorn over the death of her mother, and goodness knows Kate doesn't exactly have a light, merry way with children. After one bad babysitting incident, Kate decides the only possible option is to take Zoe to the restaurant with her every night, where she meets Nick, who helps bring her out of her shell, which is a relief to Kate even though Kate is still trying to be mad at Nick for ... well, for not being as stuffy as her, I guess.

If you predict a romance between Kate and Nick, then I suspect this is not the first movie you've ever seen!

It's based on a German film called "Mostly Martha" and directed by Scott Hicks ("Shine," "Hearts in Atlantis"), who manages to present the entire story without ever making us care about its dramatic stakes. Zoe is sad? Eh, she gets over it pretty fast. There's competition between Kate and Nick? Meh, that blows over before you know it. The film is wholly unremarkable: not particularly funny, not really very interesting, yet not what you'd call "bad," either. It the kind of movie that will be shown on TNT in a couple years, and when you're flipping channels you'll stop and watch it until the next commercial break, at which point you'll flip away and only come back if there's nothing else on.

Grade: C

Rated PG, very mild grown-up themes, a tiny bit of mild profanity

1 hr., 45 min.

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This item has 7 comments

  1. Lowdogg says:

    The original film on which this film is based is very enjoyable.

  2. Rob D. says:

    "If you predict a romance between Kate and Nick, then I suspect this is not the first movie you've ever seen!"

    That was funny stuff Eric. Of course, this is one movie I have no intentions of seeing. Who watched this trailer and thought- I wonder what's going to happen?

  3. Chrystle says:

    Of course you know what's going to happen. That's not the point. You don't watch these movies for suspense (that's what the suspense/mystery genre is for). You watch them in the bleak hope that if someone like that can change then you can too. If someone like that can find a romance, then you're not hopeless. They're more for a fantasy release than anything - the whole idea that if things can be resolved in two hours, then maybe things in our lives can be resolved and that happily ever after may actually exist.

  4. Rob D. says:

    I know what you mean Chrystle, but forget the fact that it's predictable. Eric said it's not even funny. You say that if "someone like that can find romance, then you're not hopeless" mean the character played by the perfect looking Catherine Zeta Jones.............I didn't see the movie, but it's a stretch to think that it would be tough to find romance for her. She would have the opportunity to find it with hundreds of different good looking and successful guys each year. Just because she is a tough cookie (No Reservations probably used that phrase) when it comes to work and a single mom, doesn't mean she will have any problem finding romance. Regardeless of what happens in the movie- you, me, and Eric are probably hopeless.

  5. Turkey says:

    Reminds me of that idiot movie with Heather Locklear as a hopelessly single mom who can never get a date. Very plausible.

  6. SLoweCSL says:

    I pretty much have to agree with the reveiw. My wife wanted to go see it this weekend, as she doesn't put much weight in what a review might say about a film. Even if I beg and plead that it's a 2 out of 5 at best, we'll see it and at the end agree, that movie wasn't so good after all.

    It really makes me feel for someone who, as a job, has to see these so-so to, "wow, I can't believe someone thought this was a good idea" movies. I can barely take seeing them just every once in a while.

  7. Danielle says:

    I have yet to see this version, but the original German film (called "Bella Martha" or "Mostly Martha") was an excellent movie. Very enjoyable. It won a heap of awards in Europe when it first came out, and I'd recommend giving that one a chance--ESPECIALLY if you didn't like this one.

    No idea why Hollywood sometimes feels the need to remake perfectly good movies. When do they ever come out better than the original, anyway?

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