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This film has a cast of thousands. Let's just say that it involves four American families of varied background - Jewish, Black, Vietnamese, Mexican Latino - gathering for the Turkey Day ritual. Each has a festering dysfunction.
Ruth and Herb Seelig (Lainie Kazan and Maury Chaykin) welcome their daughter Rachel (Kyra Sedgwick) home for the holiday. Rachel brings her lesbian lover Carla (Julianna Margulies), much to Mom and Dad's discomfiture. Additional relatives, not yet clued in, are scheduled to drop by.
Trin and Duc Nguyen (Joan Chen and François Chau) have just had #2 son ejected from school. If that isn't enough, Trin has found a condom among #1 daughter's possessions. And #1 son isn't bothering to attend the gala affair at all, but is secretly going to the home of his Latino girlfriend, the Avilas.
Mrs. Elizabeth Avila (Mercedes Ruehl) is separated from her husband Javier (Victor Rivers) since he had a tempestuous affair with her cousin. Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, son Tony (Douglas Spain) has invited Papa over for the holiday meal as he has nowhere else to go. Unbeknownst to Tony, Mom has her own bombshell to drop. And, of course, the Avila daughter, Sofia (Maria Carmen), has invited her non-Latino boyfriend.Read more ›
Among the "issues" addressed in this movie: lesbian relationships, marital infidelity, the generation gap between parents and children, single parent homes, and gun violence.
The ending of the movie surprisingly ties everything together into a nice bow but you still feel at the end of the movie like, "What a wacky world we live in."
Overall, the movie itself is a nice watch, worthy of an afternoon rental viewing. It's definitely not a waste of money.
Among the special DVD features in this film are interviews and commentaries from cast and crew members on a WIDE VARIETY OF TOPICS. The interviews are so-so. They're not worth the price of admission, but it's an "okay" bonus. The special feature in the DVD section I really liked were the recipes for some of the delicious dishes served up in some of the families' Thanksgiving dinners. That's a great DVD bonus.
Here's my rundown:
Great: The recipes in the DVD special features
Good: The overall movie itself (storyline, acting, etc).
Okay: The DVD bonus interviews, commentaries, etc
Bad: The pure dysfunction...but it's unfortunately all too true in our society...
Overall, a nice effort for the cast and crew and the DVD makers.
The fantastic ensemble cast includes the always wonderful Alfre Woodard as a woman fighting the stress of maintaining peace in her family. Mercedes Ruehl turns in another good performance as a level-headed matriarch rebounding from a cheating husband. Kyra Sedgwick and Julianna Margulies are delicious as a lesbian couple trying not to spar with one set of parents (enably played by Lainie Kazan and Maury Chakin). Joan Chen is also great playing a tradition-based parent losing a battle against her rebelling teenage kids. Toss in Estelle Harris for extra laughs and wonderful turns from much of the supporting cast, and you can't go wrong.
Though the movies' editing is somehwat choppy, it comes together nicely at the end. I'd highly recommend filling your plate with an extra helping of this gem. The enjoyment of laughter, possible tears, and multi-ethnic traditions make this one a winner.
"What's Cooking" centers around four families living on the same block in Los Angeles. They don't know each other, however, and instead, like most modern families, are focused on their own problems and worries. Chadha makes good use of "the American melting pot" idea, as one family is Italian, one is hispanic, one is black, and one is Asian. One of the most wonderful aspects of the movie is that, even though the people are of different ethnicities, they are portrayed respectfully as human beings. We can relate to each of them. They are different, but the same. Isn't that the underlying truth of us all? People are, indeed, people.
There are some nice performances here: Alfre Woodard is great as a stressed, neglected wife. Dennis Haysbert is quiet, cool and simmering as her husband. Mercedes Ruehl shines as the mother of the hispanic family, trying to move on with her life from an ex-husband that just won't understand that it's over between them. Kyra Sedgwick and Julianna Margulies are endearing as a lesbian couple on their first trip to meet the parents. Estelle Harris (of "Seinfeld" fame) is deliciously wicked as the aunt who just keeps pushing the issue. And, of course, there's Lainie Kazan -- always a treat.
I saw this film at Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival in 2003, and it was very well-received. There are dramatic, serious moments, and then there are quite hilarious moments.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tнιѕ ιѕ тнe вeѕт тнanĸѕgιvιng мovιe ever! Iт'ѕ aвoυт ғaмιly, draмa wιтн a нιnт oғ coмedy. All тнeѕe aмazιng acтorѕ and acтreѕѕeѕ are perғecт ғor тнe roleѕ тнey played. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Very enlightening. Had to watch it for a human diversity class. Learned a lot about diversity. BaPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I kept watching hoping it had some redeeming message. Sadly it didn't.Published 1 month ago by Linda Ernst
Love this movie! Saw it 15+ years ago; when I discovered it on Amazon, I was so excited to order it. Arrived quickly! Happy:)Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
For me this is a great, fun look at America's modern melting pot via a semi-typical Thanksgiving season.Published 1 month ago by mbryred
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