Movie ReviewsThe Kitchen – A Messy Course (Early Review)

Keith NoakesAugust 8, 201948/100
Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss
Andrea Berloff
Andrea Berloff
14A (Canada), R (United States)
Running Time
108 minutes
Release Date
August 9th, 2019
Overall Score
Rating Summary
The Kitchen definitely has star power behind it but these three ladies are wasted with an incoherent mess of a film that is neither a mob movie or a deep character drama.

Last year’s criminally-underwatched Widows set such a high standard for female-led crime films and arguably opened the door for more such films. Unfortunately there haven’t been too many wide-release films that have followed suit, however, The Kitchen hopes to follow in the former’s footsteps. Fair or not, these films will inevitably be compared to one another, not only because each are female-led crime films but also because they share similar elements. Even though both films have plenty in common, The Kitchen simply pales in comparison and will surely be considered a disappointment considering all those involved.

Based on the DC Vertigo comic series, The Kitchen was about a group of wives living in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen borough in the 1970s named Kathy (McCarthy), Ruby (Haddish), and Claire (Moss) who decide to continue the work of their criminal husbands after they found themselves in prison. Clearly the 1970s weren’t exactly the best time for women as their opportunities were limited. Relegated to living as mere wives to their husbands, their options were even more limited in order to support their families so their only choice was to in essence, take their husbands’ place.

The Kitchen may be plagued with several problems but perhaps the biggest one was its severe lack of character development. It is clear that the film wants us to care about these characters, however, it gives us very little reason to do so. This disconnect with the characters would make the characters dull and the story tough to watch. While there are some interesting aspects about the characters, the film frustratingly only touches the surface with them. These wives seemingly had tough lives and their husbands were seemingly bad people, however, we never really got a sense of either of those as the story was definitely lacking in emotional stakes.

The Kitchen felt like an incomplete film that not only lacked compelling character drama but also failed as a crime drama as if it wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. Though the story may be a mess that just got worse as the film went on, nothing about it should come as much of a surprise to anyone as the women grew their criminal empire (with little to no competition or suspense) and unsurprisingly becoming much different characters in the process. All of this is of course assuming they haven’t already tuned out the characters. Ultimately, better films get audiences invested in the characters and their stories, however, the lack of direction of the story and especially the atrocious dialog made the film tough to watch and to connect the characters’ journey on an emotional level.

Despite all the odds stacked against them, the acting was one of the few good things about The Kitchen. However, this isn’t saying that much as it was okay at best even with all the weird accents. McCarthy, Haddish, and Moss (but especially Haddish) all did their best with what were underwritten characters but they could only do so much. The casting of McCarthy and Haddish in a film like this was certainly a surprise, however, each surprisingly hold their own. McCarthy as Karen was arguably the best of the three, bringing plenty of chops to the role. Haddish as Ruby was a surprise in that she could be a serious character. Moss was okay as the most interesting character which was Claire, however, she felt like an afterthought.

Unless you are a fan of the cooks, you may not like what’s in this kitchen.

*still courtesy of Warner Bros.*

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