Combustible Celluloid
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With: Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies, Mercedes Ruehl, Kyra Sedgwick, Alfre Woodard, Maury Chaykin, Estelle Harris, Dennis Haysbert, Lainie Kazan, Victor Rivers, Douglas Spain, Isidra Vega, Gregory Itzin, Estelle Harris, Kieu Chinh, Kam Fong
Written by: Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges
Directed by: Gurinder Chadha
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality, brief language and a perilous situation
Running Time: 109
Date: 12/01/2000

What's Cooking? (2000)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Diverse Dishes

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This one could be classified as a so-called "chick flick," but What's Cooking? (2000) is so nicely balanced and fine-tuned by director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) that it turns into an honest holiday film, filled with plenty of delicious-looking shots of Thanksgiving dishes being prepared and served. It focuses on four families: one Jewish, one Vietnamese, one African-American, and one Latino, as they go about their holidays, filled with personal dramas. A son lies to his family to spend the holiday with his girlfriend, a lesbian couple tries to cope with conservative parents, a pushy mother-in-law gets in the way, an ex-husband is accidentally invited to dinner, and a gun is found in a teen's backpack. The stories are universal and could apply to anyone of any background, and indeed, the 17 year-old movie is surprisingly timeless (a political discussion in one scene could easily apply to last year's election). Chadha co-wrote the screenplay with her husband Paul Mayeda Berges. The all-star cast includes Joan Chen, Julianna Margulies, Kyra Sedgwick, Mercedes Ruehl, Lainie Kazan, Alfre Woodard, and Dennis Haysbert.

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