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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
8.7.2007 at the UltraStar Flower
Hill 4 in Del Mar, CA.
No Reservations is rated PG and runs
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