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The Kitchen (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple


The Kitchen Review

Director: Andrea Berloff
Writers: Ollie Masters (comic book series), Ming Doyle (comic book series)
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish, Elisabeth Moss 

Moviie Couple here!   We went out and watched The Kitchen this Friday!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not! Just a quick reminder of our rating system.   Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

The Kitchen adapts a 2015 DC/Vertigo comic book series written by Ollie Masters and Illustrated by Ming Doyle to the silver screen.  The film, like the comic before it, tells a tale of three mob wives in the 1970’s as they rise in power over Hell’s Kitchen Manhattan while their husbands are off serving time in prison.  Utilising some brains and old school chutzpah, the trio quickly fill a void left by an inept mafioso made-man left in charge.  The trio of enterprising 70’s ladies are played by Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss.  Directed by first time director, Andrea Belloff, we follow the growth of these three friends in a world not ready or willing to embrace female empowerment.  Growth, alliances, twists and of course violence ensue!  Can the women break the mob glass ceiling?  Are they prepared to take on a world they only knew from the periphery?  Are they prepared to pay the price a life in this world costs?  Well we don’t spoil here at Moviie Couple so why don’t we just let you know if it’s worth watching in order to find these answers for yourself or is it better to wait and watch on the couch?  So grab a pack of smokes, crank up your eight cylinder gas guzzler and hit play on your eight track while you turn up The Chain by Fleetwood Mac (Man is that song used in every 70 era picture or what?)it’s time to find out if The Kitchen is an offer we can’t refuse!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  The title of this movie, The Kitchen, refers to Hell’s Kitchen New York and probably serves as a double meaning, as most men in this film, and probably many of that era, still felt a woman’s place was in the kitchen and not much more, but it made me think of Mrs. Moviie Couple and myself.  You see, you can have the same perfect ingredients and have us both follow the same recipe, but inevitably, Mrs Moviie Couple will produce a masterpiece of a meal.  On the other hand, I would produce a nightmare of a meal, I simply can’t cook.  This film had a perfect set of ingredients, a fantastic trio of actors in McCarthy, Haddish and Moss all doing good work, but the end result was less than appetising.  To this end, I have to blame the cooks, or in this case Director Andrea Belloff, who not only directed but also wrote the adaptation for the screen.

This film wants to be a Goodmamas or a The Godmother but it never comes close.  The plot happens at a super fast pace  When the women put their plan in motion, everything happens with an ease and quickness that seems far fetched at best and unbelievable at worst.  Any attempt at challenge or suspense rising against our heroines is never really sustained.   When danger or consequences do come to light, they are addressed and handled just as quickly as they appeared.  There was no time for any dread or fear to build up at any point. These faults lie solely at the feet of the directing and screenwriting, which unfortunately belongs to the same person.  The one attempt at a twist comes out of nowhere and I’m willing to bet was developed with the right amount of time in the comic book version rather than the last minute explanation we get late in the third act here.  Sorry, again no spoilers!

So in conclusion I certainly admired the performances we get here. McCarthy shines as a mother running out of choices to help her family, but never running away.  Haddish also gives a subdued (for her) performance and shows a quiet intensity that she usually doesn’t require in her comedic offerings.  Both these women, known mostly for their popular comedian personas really step it up here in The Kitchen.  Moss shines the brightest as a mousey victim of domestic violence, that not only grows and fights back, but emerges from her cocoon of abuse as a butterfly to be feared by any and all.  It also must be said that Domhnall Gleeson, known mostly as General Hux, in the new Star Wars movies, gives us a surprising and outstanding show as the ladies enforcer and confidant Gabriel.  He is fantastic in a supporting role.

Despite some really great acting jobs, the movie is a bit of a let down.  Too short, too fast, it never gives itself enough time to simmer and soak in all the 1970’s atmosphere or to let us actually feel the fear that these women were facing each and every day.  Like a meal rushed rather than properly prepared, the Kitchen needed more time and care.  You can eat it and taste the possibilities, but you probably should have ordered take out.  I give the Kitchen 2.5 Bills.  Just barely above a waste of my time and money.  Without the stellar performances it would have been even less.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  Hi, everybody!!  The trailer really had me excited for this one!  The Godfather meets Charlie’s Angels!  I was all set!  Right up my alley, so did it live up to the hype?

The acting from the three main ladies was TOP NOTCH!  Melissa was excellent in exuding humble, sweet, loving Mom and Wife, but also capable of taking control whenever necessary!  Tiffany was fantastic as a no nonsense, tough cookie that was a consummate team player, but ready at a drop of a dime to handle things her own way!  Elisabeth played a girl with the kindest, sweetest disposition who due to her abusive past ultimately finds her “inner voice” and with that freedom finally becomes a force to be reckoned with!

Even though I enjoyed the idea of the women taking charge, I found the story to have many flaws.  It was very choppy and cut from scene to scene without warning or need.  It all seemed to get resolved instantly and with only minimal pain or suffering. Most of the characters that don’t make it, seemed to have it coming one way or another.  Very unrealistic.

Its a shame the story couldn’t live up to the strength of the three lead actors.  This seemed more like an old TV show from the 1970’s where everything works out in the end and all in under one hour!
For all those reasons, I will be giving the Kitchen 3 Bills.  The actresses and women movie-goers everywhere deserved a better film.  I definitely felt like it was a little better than wasting my money and much closer to Meh.  Sad because I was looking forward to this one so much!

On the way home, we talked about how disappointed we both were.  We both enjoyed the trailer so much and were expecting more than we got from the final product.  Mrs. Moviie Couple even told me we should have went to see Dora, WOW!    My 2.5 Bills and the Mrs. 3 Bills, gives us a solid 2.5 Bills for The Kitchen, not at all what we were expecting.  A confirmed waste of both time and money.

So until next time, remember trailers can be deceiving!  Not every film that looks good comes through on the promise!  Be sure to check out our Twitter or Facebook for a clue to our next movie review.  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

The Happytime Murders (2018) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin

The Happytime Murders

Director: Brian Henson
Writers: Todd Berger (screenplay by), Todd Berger (story by)
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Bill Barretta, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph

The Happytime Murders reminded me so much of Who Framed Roger Rabbit in many ways. Instead of “Toons” being the second class citizens of the world, it is the puppets who are disrespected and when the cast of a ’90s puppet TV show begin to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet Phil Philips (Barretta) takes on the case.

Released in late Summer 2018 the movie was already receiving bad publicity as the Sesame Workshop sued the team behind The Happytime Murders for the tagline, “No sesame. All street,” claiming that the film tarnished their reputation. Interestingly the lawsuit was rejected by the courts and soon after, the studio issued a statement, saying they were very pleased that the ruling reinforced what the studios intention was from the very beginning and that was to honour the heritage and memory of The Jim Henson Company’s previous creations while making a clear distinction between any Muppets or Sesame Street characters and the new world Brian Henson and team created. Personally I feel the tag line was pretty weak to begin with and wasn’t worth the hassle of a law suit.

The storyline is a classic whodunnit template and I think this is probably the only negative I had with the film. The plot was a little predictable and the so-called twist you could see a mile off. Now I have that out the way I can honestly say that I actually enjoyed most of the film. Melissa McCarthy’s performance as Detective Connie Edwards, a former police partner of Philips is great. McCarthy in her mannerisms and delivery remind me so much of John Goodman. Edwards is very similar to Philips in beliefs and police protocol. I think the chemistry worked when both former partners were at loggerheads with each other the most. The in-house fighting and line delivery made me laugh and I don’t mind admitting that.

Voicing Phil Philips was Bill Barretta. A veteran voice actor who has a long line and history with a lot of Jim Henson made productions. I’ll be honest and say although I was a massive “The Muppet Show” fan growing up in the late 70’s and early 80’s I didn’t care too much for the cinematic exploits of the Muppet gang and the name Bill Barretta wasn’t that familiar with me. Hey we didn’t have IMDb back in the day to check the cast to see who voiced who. Barretta is terrific as the ex-Cop. Grumpy, bitter and carrying a massive chip on his shoulder towards his ex-partner Edwards was good to watch. 

The Happytime Murders is a technically successful movie. Back in the day of the muppets or to be fair most puppetry on TV we had to accept our favourite characters had to be behind a desk and we only saw the top half of their body. Throw into that, we could clearly see the rods controlling their arms. It didn’t bother us watching them entertain but that was then and this is now. The film boasts some very clever techniques in making us believe puppets live amongst us. We witness them crossing the road, walking down the street, eating in restaurants. It’s all here and shot beautifully. The tone of the film is also a plus point. The humour is evidently adult orientated and possibly in the same vain as Ted or Team America. Very close to the bone humour and at times very surreal but always funny. The characters whether puppets or human connect well and this is another element of the film that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Put it this way, if the puppets weren’t so obviously puppets you would forget that they aren’t real to begin with. 

Brian Henson as Director will probably feel a little disappointed in the audiences reaction and feedback to this film in regards to plot. There is no hiding from it. The fact is you can carry a film with great acting from a good cast and enjoy the delights of the technical aspects to a degree, but if the storyline is weak then people aren’t going to connect with it or for that matter go back to it time and time again. Overall I wasn’t going into the film with high expectations. I liked most of what I witnessed in comedy, performance and visuals but felt the filmmakers missed a trick by not investing too much in the story. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t recommend giving it a watch. In fact I think it has enough in it for a one off enjoyable experience. Recommend.