No Reservations (2007)

28.

★★

Directed by: Scott Hicks
Written by: Carol Fuchs, Sandra Nettelbeck
Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart and Abigail Breslin

While Hollywood reheats the German romantic-drama Mostly Martha with the hopes of dishing out an easy-to-watch, likable and heart-warming flick, No Reservations doesn’t taste quite right, despite having all the right ingredients. Mixing the competitive culinary world with the challenge of parenting, No Reservations tries to balance tragedy with love but delivers uninteresting results.

Kate (Zeta-Jones) is a top chef. When it comes to cuisine, Kate is a god, but when her sister unexpectedly dies and leaves her daughter in Kate’s care, she finds herself absolutely helpless. As her boss recommends she see a psychologist, and a new eccentric, opera-loving chef, Nick (Eckhart) mixes things up in her kitchen, Kate must open up and let go of past pains in order to embrace a new life and a new love.

Played by Zeta-Jones, Kate is not simply a difficult character, but one that is difficult to like. While her closed off, bland personality leaves enough room for change throughout the course of the film, her seat in the psychologist’s office and inexperienced, cold approach to parenting are cliche. For one thing, Kate’s spirit and passion in cooking is played down with Zeta-Jones simply giving orders around the kitchen and adding neat little touches to extravagant meals. It is this lack of flair (even a serious kind of flair) that makes No Reservationsa dull watch.  Aaron Eckhart, however, makes up for the lack of creativity taken with the character of Kate as his light sense of humor and adorable qualities are easy to digest. Having said that, much of the romance is lost to the weightier issue of having lost a loved one, and with a story that loses its steam far too quickly and easily, No Reservations turns out to be a fancy-looking dish without much flavor at all.

Can you... not do that?

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