Combustible Celluloid
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With: Catherine Zeta-Jones, Aaron Eckhart, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Clarkson, Jenny Wade, Bob Balaban, Brian F. O'Byrne, Lily Rabe, Eric Silver, Arija Bareikis, John McMartin, Celia Weston, Zoe Kravitz, Matthew Rauch, Dearbhla Molloy, Stephanie Berry, Matt Servitto, Yevgeniy Dekhtyar
Written by: Carol Fuchs, based on a screenplay by Sandra Nettelbeck
Directed by: Scott Hicks
MPAA Rating: PG for some sensuality and language
Running Time: 105
Date: 07/25/2007

No Reservations (2007)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Asleep at the Meal

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The 2001 German film Mostly Martha was already shallow and formulaic, and the new American retread, from Oscar nominee Scott Hicks, only magnifies these qualities. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays an uptight New York chef who unexpectedly becomes the legal guardian of her niece (Abigail Breslin). Fortunately, a happy-go-lucky sous chef (Aaron Eckhart) -- who flounces about to opera as he works -- happens along to help her loosen up. Hicks (Shine) directs with polite seriousness, using too many montages and too much bland dialogue. A chirpy score by Philip Glass only makes things worse. Eckhart somehow provides a sense of weight and history for his character, but Zeta-Jones and Breslin cannot do the same. The whole concoction is like an entrée with no spices.

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