By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
from director Mark Mylod
(TV's "Game of Thrones" and "Succession") is a dark, satirical comedy/horror movie produced by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell which explains in part why it's so bizarre and twisted and dare I say, enjoyable.
In "The Menu," Ralph Fiennes
("The King's Man" and "No Time to Die") plays celebrity chef Julian Slowik. He owns the exclusive and fictional Hawthorn restaurant which is located on a remote Pacific Northwest Island.
Every bit of food served here is grown, caught, and slaughtered before it is sautéed and braised. Hawthorn is a "foodies" paradise like Berkeley California's Chez Panisse and The French Laundry in the Napa Valley, except it has killer views and, well, killers in general, but more on that later.
People come from all over the world to savor chef Slowik's fine cuisine which he serves to 12 lucky customers nightly. They are delighted to fork over $1,250 for the “experience" as well as the food. They include food critic Lillian Bloom (Janet McTeer, "Glimpse") and her editor Ted (Paul Adelstein, "The Greatest Beer Run Ever"), a miserable couple, Richard (Reed Birney, "Mass") and Anne Liebbrandt (Judith Light, "tick, tick...Boom!"), a past his prime movie star (the always funny John Leguizamo, "Dark Blood"/"Encanto") and his assistant/girlfriend, Felicity (Aimee Carrero, "Spirited").
There is also young entrepreneurs Dave, (Mark St. Cyr, "High School Musical: The Series"/"Palmer"), Bryce ("The Hater") and Soren (Arturo Castro, "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story").
My favorite couple is the insufferable know-it-all- Tyler (Nicholas Hoult, "Those Who Wish Me Dead") and his dinner date Margo (a terrific Anya Taylor-Joy, TV's "The Queen's Gambit").
Margo would rather be chomping on a cheeseburger than at this place. How she can even stand to be with Tyler is a mystery. He's so enamored by Chef Slowik and really wants Margo to be on her best behavior so that the Chef will like them.
It turns out that the pompous/maniacal Chef Slowik--who claps loudly to make his chefs fall in line-- along with his ever-dutiful assistant Elsa (Hong Chau, "The Whale"), don't like any of these guests. We slowly discover the reasons why.
"Everyone will die tonight," Chef Slowik tells his guests as they sit stunned thinking this is all part of the "experience" and merely a theatrical aspect of the evening.
"The Menu" certainly enjoys exposing the hoity-toityness of elite restaurants and the customers who enjoy breadless bread courses and really, really small bites of food artistically arranged on plates.
To each his own.
Some people prefer Michelin Star restaurants, others feel right at home at the Olive Garden.
Fiennes and Anya Taylor-Joy's performances stand out among the rest of the talented cast. For me, the ending left a bit to be desired, but overall, "The Menu" offers plenty of food for thought.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 5:17 p.m. and 6:47 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.
Look At This Trailer For "THE MENU"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), The American Film Institute (AFI), and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.