Plot: Master Chef Kate Armstrong (Catherine Zeta-Jones) runs her kitchen and her life with an intense control. When a terrible car accident leaves her in charge of her niece (Abigal Breslin), Kate must try to make room in her home. And a new, free-spirited sous chef (Aaron Eckhart) joins her kitchen, which means Kate must try and make room for him in her kitchen.
Who’s it for: You have to be a big fan of Zeta-Jones and of course, be willing to hear people talking about food.
Expectations: I didn’t have any. Historically, I’m not a Zeta-Jones fan, but Eckhart is great, so I figured they would cancel each other out.
Catherine Zeta-Jones as Kate Armstrong: There is something about her … it’s like Zeta-Jones is one of those little league pitchers lying about her age. I feel like she’s been 38 for a decade. Kate is insanely pompous and clueless. She serves her little niece a fish (still with head) and can’t understand why she doesn’t like it. Put this all together and it’s very difficult to join her on this emotional journey.
Abigal Breslin as Zoe: It’s an up and down roller coaster for Zoe, who is dealing with her mom’s death. One minute, she’s laughing and then next, she’s running away. The infectious spirit Breslin showed in “Little Miss Sunshine” doesn’t show up enough in this performance.
Aaron Eckhart as Nick: Eckhart had much more bravado as Nick Naylor from “Thank You for Smoking,” but he still has enough charisma to pull off this role.
Talking: Every stereotype is overdone. Kate is an extreme workaholic, a waitress/actress is obsessed with her looks, and lines such as, “A sous chef from an Italian restaurant … and I need therapy?” If you just laughed, then this film is for you. … Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Sights and sounds: There was a bicycle built for three to show how much Kate, Zoe and Nick were bonding, and then there were video tapes and photo albums to show how much Zoe was grieving. It all felt a gimmick.
“No Reservations” had me for one moment. Zoe hadn’t been eating any of Kate’s cooking, and Nick was able to convince her to try. It was an insanely simple scene that was able to capture the potential grieving and difficulty that both Zoe and Kate were going through. But unfortunately, all the other scenes just pulled and pulled on the heartstrings until it was too much. Catherine Zeta-Jones controls the kitchen, but can’t control my attention. “No Reservations” will be quickly forgotten, and luckily there are plenty of other movies for you to see that will seat you immediately.
Overall Grade: 5