No Reservations – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Director

Scott Hicks

Cast

Catherine Zeta-Jones ………. Kate
Aaron Eckhart ………. Nick
Abigail Breslin ………. Zoe
Patricia Clarkson ………. Paula
Jenny Wade ………. Leah
Bob Balaban ………. Therapist

The Movie

No Reservations was an interesting choice for counter-programming in the summer of 2007. Released the same weekend as The Simpsons Movie, and in the same month as some of the best grossing films of the ear, it still managed to gross over $40 million domestically and proved a solid starring vehicle for Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. If anything, it showed that a romantic comedy could still provide solid box office receipts in the same month three of the biggest films of the year came out.

Zeta-Jones stars as Kate, a top flight chef at a posh New York restaurant. She has some personality issues, leading her to have several incidents with patrons. When she’s left to take care of her niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin) after her mother has passed in a car accident en route to visiting Kate in New York, she’s in for her world changing. But that’s not the only thing; she has to deal with a new chef in her kitchen, Nick (Eckhart), who threatens to upset the order she has long since brought to her kitchen. She has to balance her newfound status as a mother figure to Zoe and a connection with Nick that’s hard to deny.

And as far as romantic comedies go, this one definitely has a sense of charm to it. Remade from the German Mostly Martha, it’s interesting to think that Scott Hicks did both this film (a throwaway romantic comedy with an A-list cast) and Shine. It’s an interesting way of doing a romantic comedy, as Hicks focuses more on the relationship than on the traditional formula of the genre. It’s refreshing, in a way, as the film focuses on Kate’s development in her newfound life with Zoe than it does on her and Nick’s burgeoning relationship. With a talented actress like Zeta-Jones, who has a lot of natural grace and charisma, it’s not that much of a stretch for her to do what she has to do in the film. Throw in Eckhart, who seems to be in the sorts of roles that Ben Affleck would’ve been in a decade ago, as well as one of the best child actors out there and it’s an interesting dynamic the three share with one another.

The interesting thing is watching Jones and Eckhart as chefs in the kitchen. They’ve obviously prepared for the roles immensely as they look and act like chefs when they are preparing food, etc. They’ve obviously done their homework and it shows; it’s the little things, like handling knives and food placement, which they excel in. It adds to the level of credibility and would’ve torpedoed the film if they didn’t have the skill set to be able to pull it off.

No Reservations still has to follow the conventions of the genre, which hurts it somewhat, but it’s a solid representation of the genre and is a good rental for any date night.

A/V QUALITY CONTROL

Presented in a Dolby Digital surround sound, with both a widescreen and a fullscreen presentation, No Reservations looks and sounds terrific. The colors come through cleanly and clearly; this is a film with a lot of small touches in terms of color, especially involving the food and the visual experience is top notch. There isn’t much to the audio track, if only because the film doesn’t have an excessive amount of scoring and is dialogue based. What it has to work with comes through terrifically, but it isn’t an audio experience.

The Extras

Unwrapped is a Food Channel series that focuses on how certain foods are made. This episode focused on the film, airing July 26 of 2007. Hosted by Marc Summers, more famous for the Nickelodeon staple Double Dare, Unwrapped is a behind the scene look at the film and focuses on the food for the most part. Using an actual restaurant for the film’s primary location by the name of The Little Owl, Eckhart and Zeta-Jones studied with a professional chef so they could look competent on screen. Even Breslin studied at a high-end cooking academy to learn some of the basics. It’s interesting to hear the actors discuss the technical aspects of cooking, as they tend to let their guard down from the usual EPK style that accompanies fluff pieces like this. And when talk comes to the movie, everything was wonderful and there’s no real insight into the film-making process.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for No Reservations
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE MOVIE

7.5
THE VIDEO

8.5
THE AUDIO

8.5
THE EXTRAS

2.5
REPLAY VALUE

7.5
OVERALL
7.0
(NOT AN AVERAGE)