31 December 2011

Weekend Cooking: What's Cooking? (Movie)

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Four families. Four ethnicities. One holiday. Universal problems. What's Cooking?, with its all-star cast and focus on food and Thanksgiving, was full of promise. The summary for the film claims "an intriguing portrait of family tensions" with the common thread of an American holiday meal.

Unfortunately, despite the great actors (Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick, Alfre Woodard, Dennis Haysbert, and Joan Chen), the characters and ethnic portrayals were somewhat stereotypical. For example, the Jewish couple dotes on their son and doesn't understand their gay daughter, and the Vietnamese family keeps their business open during the holiday and misses on creating an American dinner.

Some critics have called What's Cooking? a feel-good movie, but four family gatherings full of tension and bickering (meddling mother-in-law, sullen teens, disappointed parents) left me far from feeling good. Although at the end the families find some sense of closure and may be on the road to understanding, it was too little, too late for me.

As for the food: Well, that's a totally different story. The kitchen scenes were beautifully filmed, and the variety of ethnic foods and classic American turkeys, were mouth-watering to behold. I watched the movie via NetFlix streaming, but I understand the DVD includes recipes for some of the dishes shown in the movie.

If you can get past the predictable plot and one-dimensional characters, you'll end up wishing for a dinner invitation from any one of the four families.

Happy new year to all my Weekend Cooking friends. Here's to great foodie books, photos, and movies and wonderful recipes in 2012!


Gnoe (@Graasland) 12/31/11, 7:26 AM  

A movie on Dec 31st -- that's just perfect Beth! A very happy New Year to you & your loved ones. Thanks for a wonderful year of Weekend Cooking -- now on to next!

Chinoiseries 12/31/11, 8:05 AM  

I do love the trailer, but I can see what you mean. It's a little too stereotypical. Looking at everyone enjoying their respective meals is wonderful though!

caite 12/31/11, 8:56 AM  

wow, lots of big names...shame it was not better written. But I can suffer through that for great food scenes.

Beth S. 12/31/11, 9:05 AM  

Despite the disappointing plot, I'm always up for a little food porn, so I might be willing to give this one a try. :)

Beth 12/31/11, 9:10 AM  

Someone should just put together a foodie cut...all the food, none of the family drama!

Happy New Year Beth! Here's to another year of weekend cooking!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 12/31/11, 9:26 AM  

I'm chuckling at the comments from the two Beths - who appreciate "food porn" and are looking for a "foodie cut" edition of the film.

(and why does my comment read like a Michelin review?)

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook 12/31/11, 9:38 AM  

Great cast! Too bad it was disappointing because it has such potential. The trailer makes it look pretty good to me.
Happy New Year!

rhapsodyinbooks 12/31/11, 9:39 AM  

Just amazing how many movies and tv shows still invoke the same tired old stereotypes. But the food part sounds good!

Happy New Year!

bermudaonion 12/31/11, 10:12 AM  

I don't remember that movie but, after watching the trailer, don't think I'll be looking for it either. It looks kind of cheesy to me.

Esme 12/31/11, 10:25 AM  

Even if it is cheesy, I would probably enjoy watching this solo one night.

Happy New Year.

Col (Col Reads) 12/31/11, 11:12 AM  

Great cast -- too bad it was a miss for you. Happy New Year and Happy Cooking in 2012!

Zibilee 12/31/11, 11:50 AM  

Not sure this one is for me, what with all the bickering and stereotypes. The food does sound pretty incredible though!!

Anonymous,  12/31/11, 12:27 PM  

With so many excellent cooking videos available online, I think sticking to nonfiction food film makes sense, with a few exceptions. Thanks for the heads up on this one. - Fay

Peggy@Peggy Ann's Post 12/31/11, 12:43 PM  

I like the part where the girl throws something! And a good time was had by all:)

Heather 12/31/11, 1:49 PM  

I haven't heard of this movie, but I do like the idea of mixing different ethnic dishes for a holiday meal.

Lisa@ButteryBooks 1/1/12, 8:37 AM  

I have never heard of this movie but it sounds like a great premise for a storyline. Looks like today will be a movie day for me :)

Heather @ girlichef.com 1/1/12, 12:28 PM  

This one's been on my "to see" list for a while now. I'm so glad to hear an opinion on it. Happy New Year :D

Peaceful Reader 1/1/12, 12:37 PM  

I'll have to stream this one night-sometimes cheezy, one-dimensional characters is just perfect!

Marie 1/1/12, 5:13 PM  

Too bad the movie didn't work out. The trailer suggests that there might be good for a few laughs, but otherwise, I'd probably pass.

Some movies just look better on paper.

Have a wonderful new year.

Daryl 1/2/12, 9:54 AM  

a whole lotta eating/drinking went on ... sigh ... now the pants are too tight to go on ... intervention and a diet are needed now ... stepping away from the box of See's chocolates ..

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