The Hundred-Foot Journey
Starring Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal
Directed by Lasse Hallström
Let’s just start off by saying that your mother/grandmother/aunt/older neighbor lady will love this movie. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” is sprinkled with all of Steven Spielberg’s prestige, all of Oprah Winfrey’s influence, and it is still lacking in story, character development and conflict.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” is all about Hassan (played by Manish Dayal) and his family moving to London to open a new Indian restaurant across the street from an established and fancy French restaurant, which is run by an iron woman named Madame Mallory (played by Helen Mirren).
There is plenty of racial tension and awkward flirtation, but the film holds back pretty much any time something interesting starts happening. If we are doing food analogies, this movie is totally under-seasoned and bland.
If you watch enough Food Network, this movie has probably been marketed to you as a foodie movie with lots of delicious food porn and eye candy. Besides some sauce being spooned onto a plate, anyone that wants real food action would be better off staring at the assembly line at Chipotle.
Food should have been front and center in this movie. Instead, they could have just as easily been two competing karaoke bars. The French dishes seemed boring and lifeless while the Indian dishes seemed lackluster, which is disrespectful to both cultures. If this were a cooking show, their presentation would have put them over the edge of elimination.
At one point there is a beautiful girl spooning Hollandaise sauce into her mouth as if it’s the best freshly-churned ice cream she’s ever had. They also go to a fancy gastronomy restaurant that looks more like a cheesy soap opera set than an actual eatery, where food turns into creepy science projects and the chefs drink heavily on the job.
Beyond the terrible food, there are two competing love stories between Hassan and a French chef, and Madame Mallory and Papa, Hassan’s father. There are plenty of heated conversations and stolen glances, but absolutely zero sexual tension or even a little bit of chemistry.
Food is supposed to be sexy. The cast of this movie is crazy sexy. (Have you seen Mirren in a bikini!?) Yet there is nothing sexy about this movie. There is a lot of talk about passion and drive when it comes to being a successful chef, but none of it feels real.
Michelin stars also get thrown around like Mardi Gras beads and it makes no sense at all.
The film gets a PG rating, and it is every bit as childish as its rating. I’m not sure who exactly they were marketing this movie to, but if it was adults, they failed. I lost count of the number of times this movie felt patronizing. Even before the movie starts, Spielberg and Winfrey have a little moment where they talk about how this movie just had to be made.
Did it, though? I would have to disagree.