I kind of love how Lasse Hallstrom has this reputation in Hollywood as being kind of, well, cloying. His name pops up and a lot of my cinephile friends scoff and groan about how bad this movie is going to be. While I’ve never found his films truly awful, I can get understand the feelings of my friends, simply because his filmography is cluttered with films that feel like dumbed down Oscar bait. There is never really anything truly challenging about his films. ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ is earnest when necessary, but otherwise stagnant. ‘The Cider House Rules’ is almost too glossy for its own good. ‘Chocolat’ is just kind of silly, pretty and entertaining, but silly. ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’ was touching but forgettable and then he went all Nicholas Sparks (TWICE) and I found myself wondering what exactly happened to him. Was he even trying anymore?
And this is the guy who, back in 1987, delivered one of my FAVORITE movies of all time; ‘My Life as a Dog’. Where is THAT guy?
So, here we are, 2014, and we’re given some more food porn, except this time around it is in France with the lovely (and awfully snooty) Helen Miren and a family of stubborn (but, well, isn’t everyone) Indian immigrants who are seeking some sort of rebirth in the wake of a tragic loss. The problem is, the posh surroundings and loyal neighbors are not accustomed to the bold, rich flavors of Indian cuisine, nor do they desire to embrace their colorful and flamboyant culture. Instead, they skip their restaurant for the more established and societally acceptable Michelin-studded restaurant across the street. Run by the cold and malicious Madame Mallory, young Hassan and his father have their work cut out for them, but they are determined souls, and Hassan is undeniably talented.
|Why are all the movie-goers walking into THAT theater?!?!?!|
And then a lot of stuff happens, none of which is all that interesting, and then more stuff happens, and just when you think the film is coming to a close you find that you’ve been duped, and the story is not over and the climax you thought they were building for wasn’t really the climax at all and you have to stay awake for another twenty minutes, or longer, before you can finally say, “oh, it’s over now”.
The problem with ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ is that is literally feels like you are taking that long of a journey just to get to the finale, and the payoff is nothing all that inspired. This is one of those slow brooding movies with no real flash of light to keep us wanting more. Sure, the scenery is pretty, and Mirren is queen of a sexy snarl, and some of the food (when we see the food) is appetizing, but in a year that brought us ‘Chef’, you really have to do better than this. It’s just so painfully dull. The segment where Hassan leaves for life as a celebrity chef, or sorts, felt so out of place and tagged on, and the film really felt like it was going to end when he went to work for Madame Mallory, but it didn’t…it kept going and going and going. Maybe if any of these characters were remotely interesting, but other than Charlotte Le Bon being beautiful and Om Puri being a funny, albeit hugely stereotypical, stubborn old man, these characters brought nothing to the story, or maybe it’s that the story gave us no real characters.
|Wait, you mean that even though this is the part of the movie where I stop being a bitch and reach out to this family and right all my wrongs and pretty much complete my simple arc...the audience still has to suffer for like another HOUR!?!?!|
Over long, underdeveloped, and overall just ‘there’, ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ is a journey you may want to avoid.
I give this a D, mostly because it's pretty and it made me hungry once or twice, but really...whatever.