"No Reservations" is a film without an identity. It will likely have it's fans--it's not completely incompetent, but it feels a bit too much like a TV show to hold much theatricality.
No Reservations (2007, Blu-ray)
Directors: Scott Hicks
Producers: Sergio Aguero .... producer Bruce Berman .... executive producer Susan Cartsonis .... executive producer Kerry Heysen .... producer Mari-Jo Winkler .... line producer
Writers: Carol Fuchs (screenplay) Sandra Nettelbeck (screenplay)
Features: * Two TV Episdoes
Catherine Zeta-Jones ... Kate
Aaron Eckhart ... Nick
Abigail Breslin ... Zoe
Patricia Clarkson ... Paula
Jenny Wade ... Leah
Bob Balaban ... Therapist
No Reservations Blu-ray Review
Within only a few minutes of "No Reservations", I knew I wasn't in for the light-hearted romantic comedy that the disc's box had touted. No, instead, I was in for a heavier film about a top chef who is forced to take care of her sister's daughter after an unfortunate accident leaves the young girl motherless. It's not the setup one imagines for such light-hearted fare. But that doesn't stop "No Reservations" from giving it it's all. But by doing so, the film quickly evaporates it's creative thrust, leaving a barren wasteland of worn ideas and subplots fit for sitcom fodder.
"No Reservations" which is loosely based on the german film, "Bella Martha" follows Kate (the gorgeous Catherine Zeta-Jones), a top notch chef working at a premier New York restaurant. She comes to live with her niece (Abigail Beslin) after an unfortunate accident. When Kate returns to work, after a period of mourning, she discovers that another chef, Nick (the charming Aaron Eckhart), has been hired as her right-hand man. Kate doesn't stand for this and attempts to make Nick's life a living hell. Comedy attempts to ensue.
Now, bashing the comedic element of the film doesn't mean that I whole heartedly hated the film, or even the comedy that's in the film. I don't. The performances were quite good, for what they were. Aaron Eckhart and Catherine Zeta-Jones give it their creative all. The pacing of the story is well done and the direction is generally solid. And even certain aspects of the story work with ease and delicacy. It's the comedy that doesn't quite gel. It's paired with a dramatic string that doesn't lend itself to gut busters. The comedy, separated from it's darker half, works. But a death in the family is a hard thing to overcome in real life, let alone overcome and spew comedy for an additional 70-odd minutes. It just doesn't work and because of this, the film seems to have no idea what exactly it wants to be.
Subplots and introduced characters are dropped or completely forgotten. Ideas that could have been very funny, aren't. And cliches wiggle their way into the plot with a ferocity that's rather surprising. It's easy to tell exactly where this film is going long before it ever gets there, and the story and interior elements aren't even clever or original enough to make for a fun ride.
Ultimately, "No Reservations" will delight some, but leave others cold and unsatisfied. It's a decent film, but it lacks the creative flow and focus it needs. In the end, it would have made a better TV show, and that isn't saying a whole lot.
Film Report Card:
As entertainment: B-
As a film: C-
This is a review of the Blu-Ray version of "No Reservations."
Warner presents the film in 2.40:1 widescreen at 1080p/VC-1 on a single-layer BD25 disc. Warner typically provides the best content in terms of audio, video and supplements, but unfortunately, this disc comes up very short. Perhaps it's the small disc capacity or perhaps the film was not mastered with the perfection Warner titles typically receive. The transfer is muddled, at best. It's a wobbly, fuzzy, soft-looking film from start to finish. There is no visible dust or grain, but the film feels flat thanks to a dry palette of not-so vibrant colors. Edge artifacting appears in several scenes, particularly in the kitchen sequences. Black levels are fairly consistent and solid, but the overall softness of the film lends itself to a not-so sharp looking image. This transfer is only slightly better than a DVD, but not by much.
Warner presents the film in Dolby Digital 5.1. Yup, no TrueHd here. Just a plain, unimpressive mix with sparse surround effects. Dialogue is even a bit muffled. I found myself turning up the volume on my receiver several times to hear the softer dialogue. Why Warner didn't use a BD50 disc is beyond me.
Warner gives fans a few features, but most have little to do with the film and more to do with the food. The included supplements are:
• Food Network's "Unwrapped" -- This is pretty much the same episode of the Food Network show that aired prior to the film's release. A decent amount of info is given out, but the show mainly focuses on the food.
One bonus for high-def fans:
Food Network's "Emeril Live Show" -- Again, this is pretty much the same episode that aired prior to the release. This one focuses solely on the dishes made in the film with Emeril recreating them.
The film is presented in a blue "Elite" case and is pretty consistent with Warner titles.
"No Reservations" is a film without an identity. It will likely have it's fans--it's not completely incompetent, but it feels a bit too much like a TV show to hold much theatricality. The Blu-Ray disc leaves a lot to be desired. With only an HD bonus feature being the draw, this disc is hard to recommend on high def. If you're going to buy the disc, I'd recommend saving your money and going with the DVD instead.
Blu-Ray Report Card:
HD Content: C+
Recommendation: Worth a rent.
On Blu-Ray disc: February 12th, 2008.
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----R. L. Shaffer