There are plenty of reasons to feel reserved about this maudlin romance between chefs, carelessly reheated from the rather airier 2001 Italian foodie-flick Mostly Martha. Catherine Zeta-Jones plays Kate, a temperamental Nigella Lawson-type cook whose travails in the kitchen of a swanky New York restaurant are complicated by her growing responsibility for niece Zoe (Abigail Breslin). Could eccentric opera-loving chef Nick (Aaron Eckhart, shaming himself) possibly provide the catalyst for Kate to cook up a cohesive family unit from such disparate ingredients?
Shine director Scott Hicks continues his steep career slump by trying too hard to drum up sympathy for Kate’s predicament, not helped by a sonorous Phillip Glass piano score which offers little spark to illuminate Zeta-Jones’ usual deep-frozen performance. Misleadingly marketed as a chirpy romantic comedy, No Reservations’s sole virtue comes from its presentation of some pretty snappy suggestions for serving haute cuisine. But flavoured with uninspired leads and a yawnsome moral (the best recipes are, gee whiz, the ones you make yourself, sob, sob), No Reservations offers all the class and taste of a leg of factory chicken from the bar-code reduced section of your local 24-hour shop. (Eddie Harrison)
General release from Fri 31 Aug.