Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Movie Review: "The Kitchen" (2019)

Movie poster for New Line Cinema, DC Vertigo, and BRON Studios' 2019 crime drama "The Kitchen," starring Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss, and Domhnall Gleeson
Image Source
Movie"The Kitchen"
Director: Andrea Berloff
Year: 2019
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Three wives of three small-time, recently arrested Irish gangsters seize their opportunity to take the lead and increase their family's strength in Hell's Kitchen.

The Kitchen movie still where Elisabeth Moss, Tiffany Haddish, and Melissa McCarthy stand up and face off for their crime family
"If you don't help me with this, trouble might come looking for you." (Image Source)
Behind every strong man is an even stronger woman, and behind them are a couple of criminals holding a gun to your head. "The Kitchen" is written and directed by Andrea Berloff. This is her first directorial effort, though she has many writing credits, including "World Trade Center," "Blood Father," and the Oscar-nominated screenplay "Straight Outta Compton." This film is based on a DC Vertigo comic book series of the same name. It tells the story of three mob wives, Kathy Brennan (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby O'Carroll (Tiffany Haddish), and Claire Walsh (Elisabeth Moss), who are married to small-time Irish gangsters struggling to maintain control of their Hell's Kitchen, New York neighborhood. When their husbands get arrested, the women find they are not being taken care of by the family's new boss, Little Jackie (Myk Watford). Little Jackie hasn't gotten some of his business owners to pony up their protection money, so Kathy, Ruby, and Claire step to get them to pay what's owed to their family. They do so by creating mutually beneficial arrangments with the locals. Before long, these three women run the family, and they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their power. Their husbands will either have to get on board or face the consequences when they get out of prison.
Movie still for "The Kitchen" (2019) featuring Tiffany Haddish, Melissa McCarthy, and Elisabeth Moss sitting at a table in a bar
"Fuck balls. Where has that ever gotten anyone?" (Image Source)
We were looking forward to "The Kitchen." It is a drama about three mob wives taking over as heads of a crime family that stars three capable actresses in Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss. Based solely on the trailer, it looked like it would be a gritty crime thriller with just a touch of dark comedy. What could go wrong? Apparently, quite a bit, because this film is a muddled mess that doesn't know what it wants to be. It has a straightforward narrative, but it also tries to have some surprises. These surprises account for a lot of the problems in its story. Some are far too obvious, and others come out of nowhere. The directions the story takes makes the whole thing feel contrived. The pacing is also very uneven. The beginning feels really rushed. A lot happens in a short amount of time to the point where we didn't get to know the characters or get invested in them. On the flip side, the back half of the film drags, and it feels like the story doesn't go anywhere. We kept waiting for something interesting to happen, and when it did, again, it came out of nowhere, which made us roll our eyes more than anything. Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss are all talented women, but they never quite settle into their roles. We're not sure if they were right for their parts, and we don't know if director Andrea Berloff got the right performances out of them. McCarthy gives the most stable performance of the three leads, but Haddish needs more practice when it comes to serious roles (it pains us to say this because we like her so much). Domhnall Gleeson is also decent in this as well. All this being said, "The Kitchen" does have an occasional instance of tension and excitement, but these moments are too few are far between to have the impact that Berloff wanted them to have.
Elisabeth Moss, Melissa McCarthy, and Tiffany Haddish stand their ground in stunning clothing in a movie still for the 2019 drama film The Kitchen
"This right here is about survival." (Image Source)
"The Kitchen" wound up being a disappointing moviegoing experience for us. It's an amalgam of too many genres, none of which come together as seamlessly as the director thought it would. It is too fast at the beginning and too slow in the end. It is too overacted and too underacted. It is overly ambitious and simultaneously half baked. We're sad that this wasn't a better movie given the talent involved.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.1/10
RT Rating: 22%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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