Film Review: The Kitchen

09:09 August 12, 2019
By: David Vicari

The Kitchen had the makings of an interesting take on mobster movies, but something went wrong somewhere despite good performances and a credible recreation of the 1970s.

The film is set in New York City's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of 1978, and Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss play the wives of three of the dumbest low-life Irish criminals on the planet. These guys bungle a robbery and go to the slammer for three years. With their husbands away, the three woman all have financial troubles and the Irish mob isn't taking much care of them, so the ladies take it upon themselves to hire some enforcers and start collecting protection fees in the neighborhood.

Head Irish mobster Little Jackie (Myk Watford) doesn't like this and plots to bump the women off. More complications ensue when the Italian mob in the Bronx gets wind of what the ladies are up to.

The Kitchen, based on a DC Vertigo comic book miniseries by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, is scripted and directed by Straight Outta Compton co-writer Andrea Berloff.

I could be wrong, but The Kitchen plays like a movie that the producing movie studio had no confidence in and decided to trim the movie down drastically. The movie rushes through one scene after another not allowing the story or the characters to truly breathe. The character with the most potential is Moss' Claire. She's an abused wife and has a former flame (Domhnall Gleeson) show her how to perform a hit. Her character is sort of like an extension of Zoë Tamerlis' character from Abel Ferrara's Ms .45 (1981), but The Kitchen never explores Claire too deeply.

Everything, however, really falls apart in the third act with a ridiculous plot revelation and a woefully naive final scene, both of which feel like studio imposed re-shoots. No matter how you slice it, The Kitchen just doesn't work.

★★ (out of four)

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