Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, Domhnall Gleeson, Jeremy Bobb, James Badge Dale, Brian d'Arcy James, Common, Bill Camp, Margo Martindale, Annabella Sciorra
Written by: Andrea Berloff, based on a comic book by Ollie Masters, Ming Doyle
Directed by: Andrea Berloff
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout and some sexual content
Running Time: 102
Date: 08/08/2019
IMDB

The Kitchen (2019)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Counter-Intuitive

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One niggling problem with The Kitchen is that it has a vague title, and it stars Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish, and so most people will assume it's a comedy — like a comedy about a kitchen or something. It's not. It's a hardcore gangster movie, set in Hell's Kitchen in the gritty 1970s, and based on an eight-issue DC Vertigo comic book series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. But the actual problem is that it's not that it's not funny. The actual problem is that it's not very good. It feels chopped up and compressed, leaping from one grisly killing to the next without much in-between. The characters leap along with the scenes, and it's difficult to get to know them, or to care.

When their husbands are arrested during a routine robbery and go to jail for several years, wives Kathy (McCarthy), Ruby (Haddish), and Claire (Elisabeth Moss) realize they won't be able to get by, so they start collecting protection money, then start to pocket it, and soon they have ballooned into actual crime bosses, feared by all. It helps that they can walk into any situation and trash-talk their way out of it. But none of it really makes much sense. They don't seem to have any real obstacles, except for silly ones that the script throws in their way (like a surprise betrayal). The men gangsters just sort of gamely step aside as the women take over.

As the three husbands, Jeremy Bobb is abusive to Claire, James Badge Dale is a jerk to Ruby, and Brian d'Arcy James is actually pretty nice to Kathy. Domhnall Gleeson plays Gabriel, the girl gang's hired muscle, who falls for Claire. Common plays a cop, and the always-reliable Bill Camp lights up a few scenes as a fellow gang lord who strikes up a deal with our heroines. Screenwriter Andrea Berloff (whose four previous credits are all pretty good: World Trade Center, Straight Outta Compton, Blood Father, and Sleepless) makes her directing debut, and she at least turns in a movie that looks and feels and sounds like the 1970s, but it also feels compromised, like the 2010s.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment's Blu-ray release comes with a DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio track and a French-language track, and various optional subtitles. Bonuses include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a featurette on the creation of the 1970s setting, and a deleted scene, plus trailers for other Warners releases. The package also comes with a digital copy.

French: Dolby Digital 5.1
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