Bechamel and Tandoori Goat: Review of “The Hundred-Foot Journey”

Ah, look at the young lovers staring so tenderly into Helen Mirren's ears. I mean, who could blame them?

Ah, look at the young lovers staring so tenderly into Helen Mirren’s ears. I mean, who could blame them?

Rated PG, 122 minutes (watched 8/8/14)

Take one cup Ratatouille, a tablespoon Slum Dog Millionaire, whisk in Helen Mirren and a pinch of curry, then bake at 350 for two hours and you’ve got The Hundred-Foot Journey.

Make no mistake: This is not a movie for the hip or cool crowd. This is apparently a movie for little old ladies. In fact, there was a flock of grandmas at our showing and they burst into applause as the credits started rolling. Still, it’s an uplifting story about cooking and a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. Not that you’d know it from that terrible poster. Just look at it!

Refugees from a politically unstable district in India, the Kadam family emigrate to Europe and settle in a quaint French village. They open a vibrant Indian restaurant – Maison Mumbai – 100 feet across the street from a Michelin-rated classic French eatery. Things don’t go all that well. The locals are just a wee bit racist – or maybe they’re just French – especially the owner of the fancy schmancy joint, played unnecessarily by Helen Mirren. But the patriarch of the Kadam family (Om Puri) has an ace up his sleeve: a magic suitcase of spices (seriuosly) and Hassan, a son who just happens to be a fantastic cook (Manish Dayal). He learns a few French tricks from a pretty sous chef Margueritte (Charlotte Le Bon).

The food may be great, but the movie isn’t haute cuisine. I already mentioned that Mirren’s talent goes mostly unused, and it’s crystal clear after the first act that certain people are going to fall in love, others will face a challenge and others will change. Still, I must admit the script threw in a few culinary curveballs before we arrived at the finished dish. Sometimes you don’t need gourmet; comfort food is the cure for what ails you. The Hundred-Foot Journey is comfort food. There are two standouts in the cast: One is Le Bon, a cute actress with a fun French accent. The second is Om Puri, who is a delight in every scene he steals (spoiler alert: all of them). Mirren does shine in one particular scene as she anxiously waits for a phone call that could give her restaurant a second Michelin star. #firstworldproblems

Much like Chef, there is some serious “food porn” here. A scene where Hassan cooks an omelette for Mirren’s Madame Mallory makes cracking an egg almost uncomfortably sensual. But whereas Chef was often focused on the food, Hundred-Foot Journey is focused more on the ones who do the cooking, and the passion and joy they pour into their art, regardless of whether that art is classical or “ethnic.”

hundred foot journey tix

All that’s wonderful, but what’s the movie’s grade? I’m in a hurry here, buddy.

4/5

Where do I know that guy from?

Helen Mirren was the only member of the cast I recognized. You know her from a million and one different projects, but for our purposes, I’ll remind you she played a retired assassin in RED.

What is the star’s spirit animal?

Contrary to what the movie’s poster may lead you to believe, Helen Mirren is not the star of the movie. The star is Hassan, and his spirit animal is a Mongoose.

What color socks are you wearing right now?

Black with Grey toes

Spoiler alert!

The secret ingredient is love.

Megan’s Take:

4/5… could have ended several times … Very satisfying… Odd romance

Heard any good jokes lately?

What do you call a sleep walking nun? A Roamin’ Catholic.

Snacks eaten:

Popcorn with Sour Patch Watermelon and Milk Chocolate M&M’s… Megan had a Diet Pepsi while Brian had a Pepsi Icee.

Yummo!

Yummo!

Unrelated Word of the Day:

Apophasis uh-PAH-fuh-sisnoun: the raising of an issue by claiming not to mention it

Would the movie have been any better with the addition of Morgan Freeman as narrator?

Yes, but only if he attempted an Indian and/or French accent.

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