Movies and food go hand in hand. You eat popcorn and candy (and nowadays sometimes popcorn shrimp or nachos) in a movie theater; you munch on snacks while you sit on your couch watching a DVD. Sometimes the movie you’re watching directly involves food (ever notice how characters in movies always sit down to a meal and then never eat anything?!) or maybe the film is about food preparation or chefs. Or maybe it’s about the joys that food can bring to different people. Consider these films that incorporate food into their plots and themes as you prepare for your Valentine’s Day date-night; go rent one, grab some grub, and cozy up with your significant other and enjoy an evening of entertainment and nourishment!
Writer-actor-director Stanley Tucci’s film BIG NIGHT is a celebration of all things delicious. The film centers on a slumping Italian restaurant in NYC that two brothers own and operate. They devise a plan to re-energize their restaurant and their menu; hilarity and eating ensues. This is a funny, sweet little film that scored big with critics and audiences back in 1997 when it was released in theaters. Since then it’s become a cult classic on video and DVD; if you’ve never seen it, make a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and sit down with BIG NIGHT and have a wonderful, Italiano night!
From writer/director Brad Bird (THE INCREDIBLES) comes this terrific animated film that is actually geared more to adults than it is to children. Sure, there is a cute, talking rat that little kiddies will love. But the central conflict, that of a phony wannabe chef and the friendship he forges with a smart little rodent, is steeped in the passion for cooking and eating. It’s a bright, colorful film that manages to be both cute and enlightening. The digital food creations look good enough to devour; too bad they’re all the creation of a computer.
This delicious comedy from last year is guaranteed to make you crave a slice of pie. Kerri Russell stars as a plucky waitress stuck in a dead-end marriage. Her passion is baking and her specialty is pie; just wait till you see the amazing concoctions that writer/director Adrienne Shelley has her prepare throughout the course of the film. WAITRESS is one of the best romantic comedies in years, due in large part to Russell’s excellent performance (I really wanted her to get a best actress nomination at this year’s Oscars but it didn’t happen) and the witty dialogue in Shelley’s script. A clear love for dessert informs this tasty little rom-com; you’ll be running over to your local grocery store to grab a pie shell and filling as soon as the movie is over.
Simply put, if you don’t have some candy (preferably a box of chocolates) in your immediate area while watching Lasse Hallstrom’s CHOCOLAT, you’re gonna wish you did. This film LOVES its sweets; you’ll have a toothache after the movie is over. Juliette Binoche is a candy maker in Paris and Johnny Depp is some sort of pirate/gypsy; the specifics of this film, which I saw in the theater years ago, escape me at the moment, but I remember feeling as though I had a massive sugar rush only moments into the proceedings. If you consider yourself a chocolate connoisseur, you owe it yourself to check this flick out.
A remake of the German film MOSTLY MARTHA, director Scott Hicks (SHINE) ladles on the Hollywood sentimentality and slick production values to this sexy looking romantic comedy about dueling chefs (Catherine Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart) who spar both in the kitchen and in the bed room. It’s all done tastefully (it’s a PG rated film aimed at grownups) and the film glides along like butter cream icing atop a decadent chocolate cake. The kitchen scenes are authentic and will have you craving some good eats as the film progresses. Light as a soufflé and sweet as candy, NO RESERVATIONS is undemanding entertainment that will have your stomach growling unless you’ve prepared something tasty to snack on while watching.
WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE
Have you ever jokingly said the phrase: “If you do that, well, I’ll eat my shoe.”? Have you ever wanted to see someone eat their foot wear? If you answered yes to either of those questions, or if you just want to check out something so hilariously surreal that you won’t believe your eyes, you have to check out Les Blank’s short film WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE. The film is only available as an extra feature on the BURDEN OF DREAMS Criterion DVD release, but it’s worth buying just for that (you’ll also find yourself in possession of one of best documentaries about the making of a film that’s ever been produced.) The short of it: eccentric filmmaker Werner Herzog (GRIZZLY MAN) bet one of his fellow filmmaking friends (Errol Morris, THE FOG OF WAR) that he couldn’t complete his first film. If he did get through the process, Werner would eat his shoe. Well…Les made his film…and Werner…well…the title of the movie says it all. The sight of Herzog stewing his hiking boot in beef broth and garlic is beyond strange and totally hysterical. I’d suggest a nice leathery steak while watching WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE.
A coming of age story about three teenage girls set against the backdrop of a Connecticut pizzeria. It's hard to believe that this film is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. You get to see Julia Roberts in one of her early, star-making roles. If you haven’t seen this film, you really can’t consider yourself a true New Englander. Grab a pie from Briccos and take a trip down memory lane with MYSTIC PIZZA.