The Kitchen (2019) Movie Review
If nothing else, The Kitchen makes 2 of Melissa McCarthy’s 2018 offerings, The Happytime Murders and Life of the Party look brilliant by comparison.
I deliberately take care not to mention Can You Ever Forgive Me because that movie really is brilliant and doesn’t deserve to be mentioned among such dreck.
Though you did just mention it.
That’s true, I did. Can you ever forgive me?
No. No we can’t. That segue was truly terrible.
Then you know what sitting through The Kitchen felt like for moviegoers this past weekend. Truth be told, The Kitchen really isn’t terrible, but forgettable and mediocre. The film doesn’t register strongly enough to hate but you know with all the talent involved it should be exponentially better. It should not feel like a failed TV pilot.
You have to admire stars Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss for trying something different. You just wish it had been in a much, much, much better movie.
Just thought I’d add in another much.
The Kitchen opens in 1978. You can tell by the sideburns.
And the subtitle that reads: 1978.
We’re in Hell’s Kitchen in New York, the hotbed of the Irish Mob.
Let’s meet our protagonists. They’re not particularly well written, so we’re grateful they’re played by such vibrant actresses.
- Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy, elevating substandard material)- Kathy is a mother of 2. She enjoys taking care of her children, crocheting, and doting on her husband. Let’s see what she’s won! She knows her husband is a criminal but turns a blind eye to it because it serves the plot.
- Ruby O’Connell (Tiffany Haddish)- Ruby is a woman. A black woman. She’s married to a white man. In New York. In the 70s. You think she’s completely effed, but because she’s played by Tiffany Haddish you just know she’s not going to take anything lying down. She is also black.
- Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss)- You first see Claire getting beaten by her husband. Because you can guess every single moment of this movie 20 minutes before it happens you can be sure that by Act 2, she’ll kill more people than John Wick.
Anyway, these women are usually seen in the background as their husbands are midlevel gangsters in the Irish mob. Until…
You’ll never see this coming.
Are you ready?
Until their husbands are caught and arrested.
Now Claire, Ruby and Kathy must adjust to their husbands in the pokey. They’re sentenced to a 3-year prison sentence but we’re guessing they’ll be turned out in 2.
They have no money. Hell’s Kitchen’s boss Little Jackie (Myk Watford) promised to take care of them, but people in the neighborhood haven’t been making their monthly payments, therefore there’s no money to pay out.
Out of sheer desperation, the girls put their thinking pants on and come up with a brilliant idea.
You’ll never guess what it is…if you were put in prison on February 3, 1938 just 1 day before the first full length movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was ever released and you’re finally being freed from prison this weekend. Even in prison you were never allowed to watch a movie because your violent nature was triggered by moving images on a screen.
Wait. If this person was sent to prison the day before the first movie came out, how would he/she know that the moving image set off his/her violent tendencies? And why would now be an appropriate time to watch any movie?
If this just happens to be you, congratulations. Movies are awesome. See something else because there are so many other movies you could be watching instead of The Kitchen.
If this hypothetical person was sent to prison at birth, the youngest he/she would be is about 80.
The girls take it upon themselves to collect the payments from the neighborhood. They’re able to hire some muscle because Kathy is related to burly Irish folk and some wee vicious leprechauns.
But here’s the twist if you haven’t figured it out by now.
Kathy, Ruby, and Claire are WOMEN!!!
Nobody expects these “women” to be able to do the things needed to run the mob.
Why is women in quotations?
I don’t “know”.
We suspect if the ladies continue on this path, Little Jackie (he’s called Little Jackie not because he’s ironically big, but because he’s 4 inches tall in heels) will not be too pleased. He may even start a war over it.
We know Tiny Jackie’s going to war because the audience knows what’s going to happen 30 minutes before any of the characters do.
Can these women take the heat (The Heat, another Melissa McCarthy movie better than this), or are they going to take a girl’s trip (Girl’s Trip, another Tiffany Haddish movie better than this) out of the Kitchen in a coffin.
It’s up to us (Us, an Elisabeth Moss movie much, much, much better than this) to find out, but we shouldn’t because this movie isn’t very good.
What Works With The Kitchen
- In a too-brief appearance, Domhnall Gleeson (pronounced Glee-son) dominates all his scenes as the sociopathic, homicidal Gabriel. Every time Gabriel appears onscreen, the audience feels genuine danger since you never know what he’s going to do or who he’s going to kill. It’s kind of a Joe Pesci-lite performance, but it’s the only thing in this movie worth remembering.
What Doesn't Work With The Kitchen
- Writer/director Andrea Berloff’s script plays to every gangster movie cliché we’ve ever seen. It’s clear that Berloff knows ins and outs the genre she’s writing in. The problem is that anyone who’s ever seen a mob movie will be able to forecast what’s going to happen an hour before the characters do it.
Just because women are the protagonists doesn’t make it any less stale.
- Some of the worst New Yawk accents this side of a Saturday Night Live sketch
- There is violence and judicious use of the F word, but for an R-rated movie there is very little tension. The teen-centric Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark had more genuine moments of anxiety. I’m sure the Dora the Explorer movie gave moviegoers more cause for apprehension.
I saw that Dora movie. It frightened me to no end. I haven’t slept or eaten in in 4 days. I almost hit a pedestrian coming home.
- Poor Elisabeth Moss. Her Claire has such a generic, predictable and almost laughable character arc. She’s such a great actress in The Handmaid’s Tale and Us. She deserves so much better. So does the audience.
- A hokey climax that would have been better served in one of Melissa McCarthy’s PG-13 comedies. We’ve all seen mediocre movies saved by a solid ending. This is a mediocre movie made worse by a ridiculous ending.
Don’t eat out of The Kitchen because it is riddled with salmonella and you will get sick and die.
Are you saying if you see this movie you will die?
No, I was just trying to use a cooking metaphor because the movie’s called The Kitchen and I was trying to relate it to an actual kitchen.
Don’t. That was painful to read.
Okay, I’ll try it without the cooking metaphor.
Don’t step into this Kitchen because you might not literally die, but it’ll feel like you did.