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Kitchen Stories

4.5 out of 5 stars 68 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A Swedish researcher strikes up an unlikely friendship with a cranky Norwegian farmer in this "quirky, thoughtful and bittersweet" (Boxoffice) comedy that captured audiences hearts around theworld. Both "warm" (Newsday) and witty, Kitchen Stories is "a deadpan, thoroughly delightful comedy that cooks up tasty laughs" (New York Post)! It's the 1950s, and a Swedish efficiency expert under strict orders not to interact with his subject is sent to improve a Norwegian farmer's culinary efforts. But the sly old farmer much prefers to amuse himself by impeding the timid researcher's work! Soon, in the struggle between neutral observation and the need for human interaction, the kitchen becomes a battleground!

Special Features

  • Original Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Tomas Norström, Joachim Calmeyer, Bjørn Floberg, Reine Brynolfsson, Sverre Anker Ousdal
  • Directors: Bent Hamer
  • Writers: Bent Hamer, Jörgen Bergmark
  • Producers: Bent Hamer, Arve Figenschow, Jörgen Bergmark
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Norwegian, Swedish
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: December 14, 2004
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00065GVIY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,618 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Kitchen Stories" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kristen A. Spangler on November 28, 2004
Format: DVD
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooh my, this film had me in knots!

Having lived in Norway at one time in my life, I had a strong desire to see this when it turned up at last year's Cork (Ireland) International Film Festival. I try not to miss Scandinavian films when they're on, anyway, but the blurb sounded good, and so I went.

Scandinavian humour is known for being quite black, actually, and is sometimes hard to swallow. There are those who find British humour incomprehensible; they would find Scandinavian humour insurmountable. That is, until they see this film... (You know things will be good when you're laughing hysterically within the first five or ten minutes.)

The story begins with a group of Swedish researchers, who are sent to the cold and frozen wilderness of Norway to observe the daily habits of middle-aged Norwegian bachelors. The premise for this visit is that the researchers are attempting to redesign kitchens for the usage of such characters; the observations will facilitate a more user-friendly remodelling. It isn't too long after the introduction of the 'suits' that the viewer will be rolling on the floor in laughter. This comes about firstly by the inclusion of a bit of rather humorous history: once upon a not-so-long ago, the Swedes drove on the left, and the Norwegians (as they always had done) drove on the right. Consequently, the team of Swedish researchers, fresh from their border crossing into Norway, must suddenly avoid a near head-on collision, which leaves them discombobulated. Viewers familiar with the way the Swedish and the Norwegians are constantly jibing one another will immediately recognise the joke played on a certain group of meatball-lovers!

It only gets better.
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Format: DVD
We humans are, by nature, a thoroughly inquisitive lot. We can't help but want to know what it is that makes everything - including the people around us - "tick." But can that curiosity, which has done so much to enlighten and advance us as a species, also wind up draining all the spontaneity and fun out of life? If everything is catalogued and labeled and put into little boxes, what happens to that sense of mystery that makes life worth living? The Swedish film "Kitchen Stories" is an ingenious little satire about mankind's insatiable propensity to study and analyze every damn thing in life and to subject even our most mundane daily activities to the rigors of scientific enquiry.

It`s the 1950`s and a group of Swedish researchers have descended on Norway to study "the kitchen habits of the single male," a truly pressing concern if ever there was one. The project involves setting up an "observer" in a volunteer's kitchen in order to watch and record the subject`s every move, leading, hopefully, to kitchen designs that will prove more fruitful and productive for the average citizen. The proviso is that there is to be no fraternizing whatsoever between the two parties, otherwise the "objective" nature of the experiment will be ruined. This is truly life as lived under a microscope, and the question early on becomes who will be the first to "crack" under the pressure of this totally unnatural state of affairs, the observer or the observed. And just how meaningful and reliable could information gleaned from such a contrived, unnatural setup be anyway? Given the complexity of human nature, how much can such a study truly tell us about ourselves and what we're really like?
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Format: DVD
For years now, humorist Garrison Keillor has successfully mined the image of the "Norwegian bachelor farmers" who populate the fringes of his fictional Lake Wobegon. Although few of his fans outside the precincts of Minnesota have probably ever actually met a Norwegian bachelor farmer, the vague image is nonetheless strong enough to carry Keillor's jokes and jabs. In "Kitchen Stories," a 2003 film by Bent Hamer, the rest of us finally have the chance to meet such a character, and it is an opportunity not to be missed.

Isak is the farmer in question, a cagey old man who mistakenly volunteers for a 1950s Swedish study of home efficiency. Having already "improved" the domestic efficiency of Scandinavian housewives, the nutty professors of the Swedish Home Research Institute set out to bestow a similar blessing on Norwegian bachelors. Isak is thus assigned to be observed by one Folke, himself a bachelor and a strict pupil of the official methods of the Institute's director.

While an early clash of wills between the observer and the observee set the stage for the film (and offer the early comedic bits and the film's few real laughs) what follows is the real story, a tale of human need that reaches out past conventions, artifice and rules of engagement. Isak slowly overcomes his resentment and obstructionist bent, while Folke's pointless fastidiousness simultaneously unravels. The result is what The Odd Couple might have been had Neil Simon decided to forego the slapstick.

Four subplots underpin the story without distracting from it. Isak's horse, a metaphor for the old man himself, is dying. Grant, Isak's heretofore best friend, is, literally, left out in the cold.
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