Sunday, May 18, 2014
Two recent comedies generate warm laughter as they approach love from 2 different angles. Neither rates a 5-star rave but both are worth seeing.
Spending movie time with Woody Allen always makes for smiles, even if we sometimes grumble at his creative indulgences. In Gigolo he hits the mark as Murray, an aging Jewish Brooklyn bookshop owner forced out of business by ‘the big guys.’
Fioravante, his florist buddy (John Turturro), sympathizes that money is tight. Murray has a brilliant solution. His dermatologist (Sharon Stone!) has expressed her longing for a threesome – her girlfriend (Sofia Vergara!!) and a man unknown to her husband. Whaa?
Murray suggests Fioravante for the job and proposes they share the fee. What’s the harm in pimping for his friend so they can make a bundle together?
Does this sound like a lame plot for a 1970’s film? Writer-director-star Turturro makes it work in unexpectedly funny ways. Not only does business boom but he also introduces to the list of Fioravante’s clients the restless widow of an orthodox Rabbi who bore him 6 children yet never has ever been kissed! Double Whaa?? You get the idea.
This improbable farce happily unfolds yet manages to shed witty light onto love and lust, avoiding a minefield of moral and orthodox religious issues. Turturro’s professional skills bring welcome forgiving insight and humor to summer moviegoing.
A brilliant Chef, Carl Casper, (director-star Jon Favreau) divorced from foxy wife Inez (Sofia Vergara), is challenged by grumpy restaurant boss Dustin Hoffman and alienated from his appealing 11-year son Percy (Emjay Anthony).
A crisis looms. Does he cook a WOW dinner for a major and cranky food critic or does he succumb to the demand of his boss to cook the house favorites that have kept the restaurant open for 10 years?
Every film has to have a compelling conflict and this one offers a great catalyst. Chef Casper quits! The Sous-chef cooks all the house specialties and the critic, assuming Casper is in the kitchen, writes a career destroying review. Our chef sends a hilarious but vitriolic response by email which goes viral. His fury is so wild that he becomes unemployable.
Solution? Inez is sympathetic and gets her other ex-husband (Robert Downey Jr.) to give Casper a tired old food truck that he has to pick up in Miami. It’s a chance for him to try his hand at independent cooking without a boss. The catch? Casper agrees to take his son on a promised trip to New Orleans for new taste treats if the boy will help dad cook Miami inspired Cuban food.
With the help of his former Grill Chef (John Leguizamo) the trio begin a road trip whose success is propelled by young Percy tweeting in advance the funny viral video coupled with word of mouth raves to each town they visit. Crowds greet their arrival and success is assured.
The musical soundtrack supervised by Mathieu Schreyer features a lively Latin and jazz based score that propels the film and generates viewer excitement.
The bonding that occurs between Percy and his dad comes from their intense hard work, cooking, and their efforts to sell great food to ever hungry throngs. This irresistible father/son bonding is the cinematic salsa that makes this film a winner.