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  No Reservations

Starring: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson

Directed by: Scott Hicks

Produced by: Sergio Aguero, Kerry Heysen

Written by: Carol Fuchs, Sandra Nettelbeck

Distributor: Warner Bros.


     Practically speaking, Scott Hicks’ No Reservations exists only as a “romantic comedy” so that it can be marketed as such. In truth, this remake of the 2001 German film Mostly Martha is more about depicting the human condition than it is about light-heartedly combining the ideas of love and laughs.

      Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Kate, a lonely Manhattan chef who is thrust into a psychologically tasking situation when her sister dies in an accident and she is left to take care of her grammar-school-aged niece, Zoe (Abigail Breslin). To make matters even more complicated, the owner of her restaurant hires Nick (Aaron Eckhart), Kate’s culinary polar-opposite, to pick up for Kate’s slack while she deals with her personal problems. An informal and relaxed cook, Nick instantly gets on Kate’s nerves, but also romantically attracts her in profound ways.

     Initially thinking that an estrogen-injected puff-piece was in store, No Reservations surprised me a great deal when I found that its story flowed naturally. In many instances, Hicks’ film is ambitious in the way that it touches on some very serious material; the death of Zoe’s mother and Kate and Nick’s love-relationship are handled rather realistically. Zeta-Jones, Eckhart, and Breslin create three believable central characters, all of whom instantly capture the sympathies of the viewer.

      Unfortunately, No Reservations is only able to stick with the aforementioned superlative qualities for about eighty-percent of its duration. As I noted above, the movie has been marketed as a romantic comedy, and screenwriters Carol Fuchs and Sandra Nettelbeck seem to have been forced by the studio to fulfill the expected conventions of this genre through their script. The result is often supremely awkward: just as Kate and Nick begin to really show their love for one another, for instance, one will blurt out a line that seems to have been randomly taken from a Nora Ephron movie. No Reservations’ story contains elements of the romantic comedy genre, but its conformity to the standards of this type of film taints many of its most respectably organic qualities. 

     Still, despite the screenwriters’ mindless adherence to what was obviously a preconceived advertising campaign, No Reservations exists as a work that is far more ambitious and interesting than most typical Hollywood fare. If nothing more, the movie is respectable for the fact that it is an inspired effort marred by some cheesy dialogue and contrived plot elements, rather than a dead-on-arrival train-wreck featuring the same flaws. The risks that No Reservations does take and the great performances that its cast-members give make it an entirely worthwhile watch.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 8.9.2007

Screened on: 8.7.2007 at the UltraStar Flower Hill 4 in Del Mar, CA.


No Reservations is rated PG and runs 105 minutes.

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