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Dan Says… The Kitchen isn’t all its cooked up to be!

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The Kitchen Review

by

Dan Skip Allen

Gangster Movies have been a thing for a while now. Ever since The Godfather & The Godfather 2 both won Academy Awards in in 1972 & 1974 for Best Picture the world has been fascinated by gangster movies. AL Pacino, Robert Deniro and Joe Pesci as well as Martin Scorsese have become synonymous with gangster films during their careers. The Kitchen is a different take on the gangster film or genre. It’s based on a DC/Vertigo comic book of the same name but features woman in the leading roles.

Melissa McCarthy portrays Kathy, a stay at home mom with two kids. Tiffany Haddish portrays Ruby O’Carroll, wife of violent criminal Kevin O’Carroll. Elizabeth Moss plays Claire Walsh, wife of abusive husband Rob Walsh. All of these men are Irish gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen,New York in the 1970’s. Margot Martindale portrays a kind of matriarchal figure of the family. When the husbands try to rob a store for one last score, they are arrested by the FBI. They are sent up for three years in prison. Their wives are left alone without anyone to provide for them and their kids. When funds start getting low, the ladies take matters into their own hands. They think they can do what there husband’s did. So they start doing collections and offering protection for local merchants in The Kitchen. 

The three leading ladies in The Kitchen have had pretty good careers in Hollywood. Melissa McCarthy has been on a roll since Bridesmaids and was nominated for an Oscar for  last year’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?  Elizabeth Moss became a household name when she was cast in Mad Men as Peggy Olson. Then later won emmys for her role in The Handmaid’s Tale. Tiffany Haddish broke out in a big way with the female centric comedy Girls Trip. The truth is you couldn’t have cast three more popular actresses in Hollywood right now. These three ladies have been doing great work for the last four or five years. So, the stage is set for killer performances by all three in what seems like a great vehicle for them. The problem is the pieces didn’t come together to make a complete puzzle.

With a great cast of character actors such as Bill Camp as an Italian gangster, Common as an FBI agent, Domnal Gleeson as a psycho killer and James Badge Dale, Jeremy Bobb & Brian d’arcy James as the aforementioned husbands of our three leading ladies, this film couldn’t be more ripe to be a sleeper hit at the end of the summer. The problem is it’s not even close to being a hit film. This film has all kinds of plot inconsistencies and dialogue issues. These characters say and do things that are completely unbelievable. I don’t believe a thing these women do or say. They just don’t seem like realistic portrayals of women to me. I understand anything can happen and usually does in film, but not in this case. This great cast is wasted in an unrealistic mess of a film. I had high hopes going in based on the comics and I was completely letdown. What a waste of a good chance to show what these talented women could do together. 

Andrea Berloff is most famous for writing such films as Straight Outta Compton, she garnered and an Academy Award nomination, World Trade Center, directed by Oliver Stone and Blood Father starring Mel Gibson. These are admirable accomplishments in her career. Maybe she thought she was ready to direct a feature film based on her prior writing credits. Wrong. Simon Kinberg found out the hard way. Just because you write screenplays, that doesn’t necessarily translate into your ability to direct. Dark Phoenix was an utter disaster. The same can be said for Berloff. This film was a good idea that just didn’t come together in the end. I’d say stick to writing what your good at and leave the directing to someone more accomplished. 

2 stars

Dan Skip Allen