The Kitchen (2019)

“I’m taking care of myself.”

It’s really a shame how very disappointing this one turned out. What wanted to be a double handed middle finger and a verbal “f*** you” to the patriarchy ends up as the instantly forgettable The Kitchen, a film so deadly stoic and attempting to serve up dark comedy that most everything in between is simply acrid and off-putting. It all adds up to a movie that’s the kind of dish many will send back and few will chew their way through, and one that almost nobody will savor or remember. There’s no flavor.

Set in New York’s grimy Hell’s Kitchen circa 1968, the film opens on three men trying to pull off one more hit by robbing a convenience store. They’re caught, sentenced to three years in jail, and their wives are left to figure out how they’re going to get by. Mob bosses screw them over, withholding promised money, causing Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy) to become the breadwinner of the family. She teams up with Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss) and Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish), spouses to her husband’s cohorts, banding together to take things into their own hands with an “anything you can do I can do better” mentality. Turns out they’re more than capable of committing a crime and cleaning us the mess.

By opening the film to the tune of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World,” director Andrea Berloff clearly establishes the motive behind adapting the comic series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle. But the film lacks intent or a real plan to execute and elaborate on the reason for making the movie in the first place. That the three leads deliver quality performances without ever showing much chemistry as an ensemble doesn’t help matters either. So much time and energy is required to make a movie and I’m sure that The Kitchen is no exception, yet it just doesn’t translate to the screen. Hardly anything about the movie leaves a lasting impression.

For how bland and flat the film is, The Kitchen at least looks the part, thanks to the evocative work by production designer Shane Valentino. You really feel as is you’re looking at the decrepit buildings and ruthless sidewalks of a bygone era, except it’s telling a story with no tangible consequences for the many head-scratching actions shown throughout. Some much needed script work and a longer shooting schedule might have helped flesh out and further develop the emotionally understaffed The Kitchen, a fledgling attempt of a prestige drama picture that’s more of a cheap diner meal cobbled together by a cook than it is a serious film presented and plated by a proper chef.

“There is no place for us out there.”

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

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