Movie Reviews

‘The Kitchen’: Movie Review

The Kitchen didn't get good reviews when it came out last August. Was this a sign I should've listened? Here's my review of Andrea Berloff's directorial debut.

Watched Date: 4/21/2020

Have we gotten our fair share of excellent gangster movies? Yes. Did we also get a ton that doesn’t amount to anything after you’re done watching it? Sure. With everybody who’s involved with The Kitchen, you honestly feel whacked knowing this missed the mark of how not to screw up a crime drama if they desperately tried to make this be the female Goodfellas

What’s the Story: Three Irish mob wives Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby O’Carroll (Tiffany Haddish), and Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss) take over the family business in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City in 1978. after their husbands are sent to prison for being involved in the mob. 

Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish in The Kitchen (2019)

2019 has delivered a lot of entertaining movies based on comic books. On the surface, The Kitchen might not look like it’s based on a comic book since it’s a drama focusing on crime, but it’s an adaptation of the Vertigo DC comic series of the same name by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, believe it or not. Just from knowing who’s involved with the cast and who behind-the-camera, the trailers didn’t exactly impress me as I imagined this to be some kind of comedy just based on its stars. I was wrong.

Andrea Berloff makes her directorial debut here, and she’s best known for co-writing Straight Outta Compton, which she was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Original Screenplay category, as well as writing the screenplay. There have been so many great directorial debuts over the past few years that made it look like they’ve done this already. Berloff isn’t one of them, to be 100% honest. Her direction, along with her screenplay, was flat as a sidewalk people walk ongoing about their day-to-day lives. Why is that, you may ask? Because it didn’t feel like it was taking place in Hell’s Kitchen in the late ‘70s when her the directing doesn’t any style towards it. The more I thought about it, and everybody else mentioned too, this is, basically, a poor-mans Widows, but less exciting.

Despite the female talents in here giving it all they have to their respective performances, they weren’t enough to make this work since there wasn’t an ounce of character development for any of their characters. Such a shame they were involved. McCarthy, Haddish, and Moss were enough to make me watch this, but you rarely have any investment with them when the chemistry between them is at a zero.

We’ve seen McCarthy step into her dramatic chops after being impressing everyone with her Oscar-nominated role in Can You Ever Forgive Me?, one of her best performances to date. I thought she was the one who tried her hardest to work through what this script was giving her, yet there wasn’t enough time to get behind her character. But out of the trio, Haddish was the one I thought was completely miscast to where I never felt like she belongs with everyone else, and I couldn’t blame her as someone else could’ve taken her place. And when it came down to Moss, there’s nothing to her except she was in an abusive relationship with her husband and isn’t gonna take crap anymore. 

Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish in The Kitchen (2019)

Everyone else in here makes you feel bad for them being included. Common as an FBI agent was wasted, Margo Martindale only has one purpose in this and that’s being the unlikable mother-in-law to Haddish’s character, and poor Domhnall Gleeson had nothing to do and there was no leeway when his character was introduced as a Vietnam vet who the love interest for Moss and teaches her how to dismember bodies.

There are people out there who have been fans of this genre for a long time, but this was not the way to do it. When I say this script is empty as to why Berloff’s debut falls short to mild expectations, that means I was trying to figure out what was going for the entire two hours since I lost interest around 47 minutes. The concept sounded cool about these women’s rise to power when their husbands are away. We don’t see these characters do anything important when running the mob; all they do is collect money and talk about how important they are. This failed hardcore in how to be an entertaining mob movie from the start without having an inconsistent tone all over. It had no clue if it wanted to be a dark comedy or a straight-up drama. The surprises are never shocking in the slightest, and the fact they wanted the viewer to find this unpredictable is insulting when they don’t make sense. Of course, I haven’t read comic book miniseries, but I’m pretty sure it was more interesting on the pages than being translated.

Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish in The Kitchen (2019)

Isn’t there anything I remotely liked enough to give some positive? I liked the music choices that represented the late ‘70 during the montages, including “Barracuda” and “Carry on Wayward Son.” That said, having needle drops to great music isn’t a strong positive when everything else is a dud around it.

If I would’ve seen The Kitchen before the end of the year, this being placed on my worst list would’ve been possible. What happens when you get three talented actresses together for a crime drama amounting to nothing? A really dull movie that’s unmemorable with each passing scene. This was terrible where nobody has anything to do because of no resemblance of a plot, making you realize they all deserved better. For those entire 104 minutes, I could’ve been watching anything better that respects this genre right.

Grade: F

The Kitchen Movie Poster

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