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No Reservations

Starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Anthony Eckhart
Screenplay by Carol Fuchs and Sandra Nettelbeck
Directed by Scott Hicks

IN SHORT: pass. [Rated PG for some sensuality and language. 103 minutes]

Catherine Zeta-Jones, who plays an ace chef named Kate, has coasted on this one, folks. As top dog in a triple A rated NY restaurant called 22 Bleecker, her life is her food; its selection and preparation and presentation and not much else. We know she's incredibly successful -- she's got a New York apartment other New Yorkers would pay good money to really good hit men to acquire. But we digress. This particular evening she awaits a long overdue visit from her sister Christine (Arija Bareikis) and ten year old niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin). Said sister is fond of talking on her cell phone whilst driving her automobile.

Dumb sister. Dead sister -- Nothing you don't already know from trailers or ads or whatnot. And so Kate must protect a traumatized niece while defending her turf from the new hot shot sous-chef Nick (Aaron Eckhert). Don't ask us to explain what the film assumes you know. The sous-chef chops vegetables and take credit for most of Kate's work. Or so it appears. Everything else deemed important is revealed in boss mandated therapy sessions with the now rarely seen actor Bob Balaban. It's a cheap way to fill in story gaps but we enjoy Balaban's dry delivery in most everything he does so, points for that. Back to the sexy stuff...

Eckhert's Nick retrieves the clean shaved but still five o'clock shadowed look from the masculine sex symbol stereotype vault, sways all the other women in the joint to his side and and off we go into more of the same stuff that gets waded through when the date's the thing and how good the film is doesn't really matter.

Make out in the back row or diss the thing on the way to dinner. Make no mistake about it No Reservations is a middling time killer and not much more. Zeta-Jones parades two acting styles here -- hair pulled back tight means "stern" and hair let loose and flowing means "open and sexy". We prefer the latter but that's a whole 'nother set of criticisms for a whole different kind of movie. No Reservations tries to be fluff with a serious underpinning. What it is, is dull.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to No Reservations, he would have paid . . .


lesser dateflick level. Wait and rent. Make out on your own, much more comfortable living room couch.

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